Helmet "evidence."

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thirdcrank
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Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 25 Mar 2015, 3:49pm

Somebody queried on the current thread about the proposed private prosecution following the death of Michael Mason, how not wearing a helmet might be relevant in a criminal trial for crashing into a cyclist from behind. I'm putting this here to avoid turning that thread into a helmet thread.

The way it might be done is like this, once it's been established that a rider was not wearing a helmet.

At the conclusion of the defence case, the prosecution and defence have the opportunity to address the jury and in that order. It's then easy then for the defence to include something like this:

Members of the jury, you have heard that the deceased was not wearing a safety helmet for his own protection. Many, if not all of you, will be experienced drivers and therefore familiar with the Highway Code, which advises that pedal cyclists should wear a safety helmet, for their own protection. Some people suggest that safety helmets do not improve safety and, if I may use the expression, the jury is still out on that (conspiratorial gestures if the jury goes along with the humour) but you, members of the jury, will soon have to reach your own verdict on this very real case and you may think that a pedal cyclist who is so careless of their own safety as to ignore this sensible safety advice in the Highway Code may well be equally careless about ignoring its other road safety advice. You may indeed agree that it's unfair that my client should be facing a lengthy term of imprisonment ..... etc.


A professional would do that a lot better than I can and they'd be dressed up for the part. The last to address the jury is the judge when summing up and they'd have to include that observation.

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mjr
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby mjr » 25 Mar 2015, 3:58pm

Would the prosecution be able to object if the defence introduced the pro-helmet argument in its conclusion and able to challenge the argument if it was introduced earlier?

But in short, this is why we need better marketing and advocacy campaigns for helmet-free riding.
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Mick F
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Mick F » 25 Mar 2015, 4:22pm

mjr wrote:But in short, this is why we need better marketing and advocacy campaigns for helmet-free riding.
My point entirely, as stated seemingly endlessly.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Tonyf33 » 25 Mar 2015, 9:01pm

Aside from the fact your little 'court statement' is full of holes/lies/myths and unproven nonsense have you seen any boxes with the words 'safety helmet' on them..thought not :roll:

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 25 Mar 2015, 9:41pm

Helmet evidence could of course be used in court and also considered by insurance companies providing for cycling events. If the claims for those not wearing are likely to be lower than for those wearing, they should not specify that helmets should be worn to take part in an organised event.

With this in mind a list of advantages v disadvantages may be of benefit.

Possible advantages
1. Helmet adding to the rider profile, estimated at 3% increase.
2. Helmet providing protection, preventing injury, resulting in fewer accidents being reported.

Possible disadvantages
1. Extra impacts to the helmet that would otherwise be near misses for a bare head.
http://www.cycle-helmets.com/au-assessment-2015.pdf
page 23
Robinson 1996 detailed the incidence of hitting their head/helmet in a cycling accident was "significantly higher for helmet wearers (8/30vs 13/476, i.e. 20% vs 2.7%, p 0.00001)". A bare head width of approximately 150mm may avoid contact compared to a helmeted head at approximately 200mm width.


2. Extra neck injuries.
http://www.ta.org.br/site/Banco/7manuai ... helmet.pdf
page 7
Neck injury data indicates helmet use may not provide any benefit. Attewell stated "Three studies provided neck injury results that were unfavourable to helmets with a summary estimate of 1.36(1.00, 1.86), but this result may not be applicable to the lighter helmets currently in use". A combination of helmet factors increase the risk of a neck injury, size, mass, gripping the road surface, bending moment and overall accident rate
.

Elvik 2011 details a factor of 1.40 (0.97, 2.02) in a more recent study, ref http://www.cycle-helmets.com/elvik.pdf

3) Rotational injuries to the brain due to increased helmet impacts and helmets gripping the surface, compared to a bare head loosing hair and skin.
http://www.cycle-helmets.com/au-assessment-2015.pdf
page 42
McIntosh et al results indicate a rotational product of approximately 8 krads/s² for 8 ms for helmeted (Fig 3), (64 krad/s²-ms) vs for non-helmeted (Fig 4),13 krad/s² for 3 ms (39 krad/s²-ms). In effect, their results show that helmeted may be more at risk from rotational acceleration by the extended time involved. Consequently their conclusions may not be reliable. The research also fails to take account of a major report by St Clair and Chinn [1] who conducted tests showing that helmeted can experience rotational acceleration levels up to 20 krad/s² by impacting a central vent position. McIntosh et al failed to test for central vent impacts.


3. Slightly higher centre of gravity (0.2% - 1%)

4. Extra weight on the head contributing to increasing the forces for going over the handlebars when braking very hard.

5. Extra wind forces on head (30%-40%) adding to riding instability. Refer http://www.ta.org.br/site/Banco/7manuai ... helmet.pdf and ‘Effect of crosswind on bicycle with and without rider control
N. Sharma, R. Happee, A. L. Schwab.

6 Up to 10g forces (60N) due to high impact accelerations, by hitting deep pot-holes, affecting balance and riding stability. http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f381 ... -responses details;
‘A rider travelling at about 12mph (20km/hr) or 5m/s and hitting a pothole, for example 300mm wide, may take about 0.05 seconds to cover the distance. A typical reaction time may be about 0.1- 0.2 seconds, so the rider would not have time to react to any forces from the pothole impact. Reportedly up to 10g forces to helmets can occur from hitting deep potholes (ref 6). Helmets may add 5% to 10% extra to the bare head mass. The forces on the head would likely be higher for a helmet wearer and in random directions and the out of balance forces from the impact on the rider and bicycle may vary in direction. As a consequence wearing a helmet increases the risk of falling by incurring extra forces that the rider may not have time to react to.’


6. Increased risk-taking at times, or being slightly less cautious, by some helmeted cyclists.

7. Helmets making young children look taller giving drivers the impression of an older child.

8. Drivers passing closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets.

9. Riders being distracted by comfort aspects, straps rubbing, ventilation holes catching flies, wasps or by adjusting their helmet.

10. Riders feeling warmer/hotter at times, affecting concentration and increasing fatigue.

11. Helmet or strapping affecting the sound pattern reaching the ears.

Given the fact that helmets are not tested for rotational accelerations and designs vary, any cyclist choosing not to wear a helmet is making a reasonable decision as they cannot be assured that the product is safe. Insurance requirements to wear helmets are not justified with the uncertainty about the safety aspects of helmets.

A number of reports details a higher accident rate can occur following helmet use, refer;
http://www.cycle-helmets.com/au-assessment-2015.pdf
http://www.ta.org.br/site/Banco/7manuai ... helmet.pdf

The BMJ reported the findings of; Ben Goldacre, Wellcome research fellow in epidemiology, and David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk.

http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f381 ... =ref#ref-9
They reported;
In any case, the current uncertainty about any benefit from helmet wearing or promotion is unlikely to be substantially reduced by further research. Equally, we can be certain that helmets will continue to be debated, and at length. The enduring popularity of helmets as a proposed major intervention for increased road safety may therefore lie not with their direct benefits—which seem too modest to capture compared with other strategies—but more with the cultural, psychological, and political aspects of popular debate around risk.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby TonyR » 25 Mar 2015, 10:55pm

This has been tried in Court but the Judge dismissed it on the basis that no evidence had been bought forward on whether or not the helmet would have made any difference and so the point should be ignored. So it can be done but only if evidence on that point has been brought forward and tested in the proceedings. I'll see if I can look out the case details later.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby TonyR » 25 Mar 2015, 11:10pm

Here it is:
If a party seeks to persuade a Court that an injury would not have occurred or would not have been so serious, only a medical practitioner can speak to that. There was no evidence to prove that any particular injury and residual disability was or may have been avoided had a helmet been worn.

Smith v Finch, High Court of Justice Queen's Bench Division, 22 January 2009

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby mjr » 26 Mar 2015, 3:08am

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2009/53.html is a copy of the judgment. The above quote appears in point 55.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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thirdcrank
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Mar 2015, 6:47am

The point I'm trying to make isn't about whether helmets work or not. It's about complying with the Highway Code.

On the question of whether something like this should be raised earlier in the trial, if it were to be a "bad driving" case where the casualty had survived to give evidence, then the defence would have to cross-examine, but on the issue of disregarding the HC, not on whether helmets worked in general or might have worked in the case which led to the trial. I can't see how that line of questioning could be disallowed and it could be covered in very few questions, most of which have yes/no answers:

Have you read the Highway Code?
Do you accept that is says that cyclists should wear helmets?
You chose not to follow that advice?
Would you now tell the jury which other parts of the Highway Code you feel do not apply to you as a cyclist?

Bear in mind that in many collision cases, the defence will be alleging that the rider caused the crash by their own conduct. The very obvious trap for a rider facing that line of cross-examination is the question "Are you saying the Highway Code is wrong?" No matter what was said about the uselessness of helmets, the defence could dismiss it by returning to the HC and the longer it dragged on, so the point would be reinforced in the minds of the jury, who might need little convincing.

I do know that the HC is only advisory where it doesn't say "must" and quote the relevant legislation, but that doesn't affect what I'm saying. My fundamental point is that if you don't like something, make sure it doesn't go into the HC.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby pwa » 26 Mar 2015, 7:57am

I understand why some people feel differently, but my own approach is to give nobody an excuse. If it's getting a bit dark out there I have my lights on, two at the front and two at the back. And I wear yellow / hi-viz day or night. Helmet on. Stop at red lights. Signal before turning, etc, etc. I leave nobody an excuse. If something goes wrong I don't want them to have a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby TonyR » 26 Mar 2015, 8:10am

thirdcrank wrote:Have you read the Highway Code?
Do you accept that is says that cyclists should wear helmets?
You chose not to follow that advice?
Would you now tell the jury which other parts of the Highway Code you feel do not apply to you as a cyclist?


Yes, I chose not to follow that advice but following the precedent of Smith v Finch what is your medical evidence that my decision made any difference to the outcome? And my barrister would like to cross examine your medical expert and bring our own expert to testify it made no difference.

And by the way, why was your client not following the advice of the Highway Code to leave room when overtaking a cyclist, which, if they had done so would have meant they missed me rather than hit me. Would you tell the jury which other parts of the Highway Code your client feels do not apply to drivers?

Or perhaps you next want to blame me for being on the road not the cyclepath as advised by the Highway Code and which advice I also don't follow to answer your last question.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby mjr » 26 Mar 2015, 8:16am

It would be a brave defence lawyer who invited an in- court examination of their client on the highway code. There are more rules for motorists and so far more rules broken.

I agree that the highway code should be revised to remove the unhealthy instructions to people cycling and walking, which were added with inadequate supporting evidence.

I'm very unlikely to be involved in a collision and I consider riding clear-headed means I'm less likely to be injured so the whole topic will never arise for me. It's not worth ruining cycling in the hope the courts won't let yet another motorist off lightly. That's happening anyway.

How do we best get the code revised? Direct attack or a presumed liability law?
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 26 Mar 2015, 8:46am

The CTC AGM voted in 1997 to have the advice removed from the Highway Code. The advice was added in 1993.

It has been some years since the Code was last revised, 2007 appears the date.

It seems to me that the Government could change parts of the Code if it wanted to. a full revision would incur a higher cost.
Speed limit changes, larger HGVs, and changes to motorway driving requirements has occurred without revising the Code.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Mar 2015, 9:07am

I think another point that may be being missed is that a jury is endowed with common sense, or so some would have us believe. Put another way, they are just as likely to apply their own values/ prejudices as they are to listen to legal arguments. A jury selected on the basis of being card-carrying CTC members might well include the three helmeteers necessary to secure a retrial. A typical, randomly selected jury might contain a majority of "cyclists are their own worst enemy" devotees.

The job of the defence in a criminal trial is to discredit the prosecution evidence. Victim-blaming is part of the stock-in-trade. Provoking a witness to lose their temper or get confused is another. The more the prosecution sought to prolong the discussion about helmets, the more they might risk implanting the defence case in the minds of jury members.

I can't see the system changing any time soon. Nor can I see an easy solution. There's been a powerful campaign against victim-blaming in certain types of case, but I don't think that campaigners there would say that their battle was over.

I invariably ride with a helmet and hi-viz togs just to give the victim blamers fewer things to crow about.

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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 26 Mar 2015, 9:26am

http://www.parliament.uk/business/commi ... mmunities/

Government should consider amending the Highway Code to promote cycle safety and ensure that it reflects the rights of cyclists to share the road with drivers.


It is now about 7 to 8 years since the Code was revised. The request above is to amend the Code in regards to cyclists and their rights.

It seems possible for the CTC to enter discussions with the Government for a part revision of the Code.