Helmet "evidence."

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
rabmania
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby rabmania » 26 Mar 2015, 9:39am

pwa wrote: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.


Unfortunately they will still have the excuse that the sun was in their eyes/their laptop fell into their lap/that the road was quiet so exceeding the speed limit by some 30mph couldn't be considered dangerous etc.

The dice are loaded. The game is up. Ride your bike, helmet or no. It might prevent injuries in some instances, but the careless/couldn't- care -less drivers will still kill you and get away with it.

Bicycler
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Bicycler » 26 Mar 2015, 10:36am

pwa wrote: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.

All seemingly reasonable... but it just exacerbates the problem for those of us who don't wish to be so pressured. The more people who wear those items, the more it appears to be normal responsible cyclist behaviour and the more the rest of us have to defend our own position. It's bad enough that people think of helmets and hi-vis as essential safety equipment worn by all responsible cyclists but if other cyclists start wearing the stuff because that's what those other people think we should we are on a one-way road to uniformity and compulsion. After all, what possible reason could one have not to wear them...?

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bovlomov
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby bovlomov » 26 Mar 2015, 11:20am

Bicycler wrote:...we are on a one-way road to uniformity and compulsion..

Welcome to modern Britain!

I find this self-censorship and self-policing more worrying than oppressive laws and regulation. All over the country parents, teachers, officials and event organisers are making normal life impossible. Not because of laws, and especially not in the light if any specific legal action, but because they suffer from a chronic low-level anxiety that tells them they may be blamed. Though often they can't really explain how.

It's only a small step to "I'd better not say ... in case they think I'm a ... "

In fact 'chronic low-level anxiety' is a pretty good description of modern life. That's what needs to change.

TonyR
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby TonyR » 26 Mar 2015, 12:30pm

pwa wrote: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.


So you always ride on the cycle path when one is provided as advised by the Highway Code?

Bicycler
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Bicycler » 26 Mar 2015, 12:36pm

At least the section on cycle facilities emphasises that it is a matter for individual judgement

Steady rider
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 26 Mar 2015, 3:08pm

If the Highway Code stated 'consider wearing a cycle helmet', would this mean that the advice could not be used in legal proceedings? It would be different to 'should' and 'must'. Would this be a good change? How would be legal minds view this?

ps hiv vis vests and other issues may also fit into a 'consider' section.

TonyR
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby TonyR » 26 Mar 2015, 3:38pm

Steady rider wrote:How would be legal minds view this?


As before they are constrained by the High Court precedent until the unlikely event of the Appeal or Supreme Court changing it. Its up to the legal minds to prove that a helmet would have made a difference. Not taking advice on its own makes no difference. Its the evidence that not taking that advice had a negative impact that is required.

thirdcrank
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Re: Helmet

Postby thirdcrank » 26 Mar 2015, 4:46pm

TonyR wrote: ... So you always ride on the cycle path when one is provided as advised by the Highway Code?


This something that has always worried me, as somebody who scorns farcilities and the people who install them. It's why I dissented - as a minority of one - when the relevant HC revision was trumpeted as a triumph for cyclists.

Bicycler wrote:At least the section on cycle facilities emphasises that it is a matter for individual judgement


61

Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

https://www.gov.uk/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82

Apart from the evidence which suggests that many farcilities can make cycling less safe, if a rider on the main carriageway were to be in a collision, the other side's representatives would be claiming that the rider got it wrong. (The wording in Rule 63 dealing with cycle lanes uses similar wording.)

Steady rider
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 26 Mar 2015, 6:27pm

As before they are constrained by the High Court precedent until the unlikely event of the Appeal or Supreme Court changing it. Its up to the legal minds to prove that a helmet would have made a difference. Not taking advice on its own makes no difference. Its the evidence that not taking that advice had a negative impact that is required.


to add
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


One problem is the court is viewing the topic from if an injury would have been prevented, if a helmet had been worn. It is viewing an issue after an event, whereas in practice the decision if to wear one or not is made before the event. Before the event the person decides on considering a range of issues and feelings or likes and dislikes. Without a legal requirement, the courts are stretching the law to include actions that they consider a person should have taken, they are treating people in a similar way to if they had disobeyed a law. The case is fundamentally flawed from a human rights perspective. A fair approach is to consider if a person was acting legally and reasonably. If they were and an accident occurred, issues on compensation and fault should be based on who caused the accident.

ps
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2009/53.html
section 40, fails to mention that the CTC voted for the advice to be removed in 1997.

section 44 is misguided
44.In my judgment the observations of Lord Denning MR in Froom and others v. Butcher above should apply to the wearing of helmets by cyclists. It matters not that there is no legal compulsion for cyclists to wear helmets and so a cyclist is free to choose whether or not to wear one because there can be no doubt that the failure to wear a helmet may expose the cyclist to the risk of greater injury; such a failure would not be "a sensible thing to do" and so, subject to issues of causation, any injury sustained may be the cyclist's own fault and "he has only himself to thank for the consequences".


section 45 again misguided
45.I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that the cyclist who does not wear a helmet runs the risk of contributing to his/her injuries. I observe that if there is to be a repeat in 2008 of that study, the statistical evidence may show a higher degree of compliance with the guidance in the Highway Code, now that there is a much increased use of pedal cycles.

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mjr
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby mjr » 26 Mar 2015, 8:15pm

That 2008 study is debated with graphs over near viewtopic.php?p=878922#p878922 and the top of the next page - tl;dr: quite an increase in peak-time helmet usage but still no significant reduction in casualties.
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pwa
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby pwa » 26 Mar 2015, 9:42pm

TonyR

You quite rightly ask whether (in addition to the other measures I take partly to avoid anyone having an excuse if they harm me) I use cycle paths when they are available, and the answer is "no". I cycle where I want to, which mainly means country lanes. And I do not always use "cycle facilities where they exist. I know that could be used against me, but it would affect my cycling adversely so I take that risk. The measures I do adopt (helmet wearing, hi-viz, stopping at red lights, etc) are all things I can see a point in and don't mind doing anyway.

It may be petty, and I probably have my priorities all wrong, but I would be angry with myself if the lack of a helmet or hi-viz helped a driver get off the hook for harming me. I don't feel pressured into wearing those items. I would wear them anyway, because I believe in them. But the thought of giving a bad driver a loophole is another reason for me to wear them.

These comments should not be taken to mean that I think harming someone not wearing a helmet is okay. It's not.

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horizon
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby horizon » 26 Mar 2015, 11:19pm

I'm not quite sure why not wearing a helmet should be any different from any other action or omission on the part of a cyclist that could be used to shift the blame onto the cyclist.

The problem is that a helmet is universally considered to be an effective safety device (even if the defence barristers themselves don't believe it). I thought that was what all these helmet threads were about - questioning that assumption.
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reohn2
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby reohn2 » 27 Mar 2015, 12:29am

bovlomov wrote:
Bicycler wrote:...we are on a one-way road to uniformity and compulsion..

Welcome to modern Britain!

I find this self-censorship and self-policing more worrying than oppressive laws and regulation. All over the country parents, teachers, officials and event organisers are making normal life impossible. Not because of laws, and especially not in the light if any specific legal action, but because they suffer from a chronic low-level anxiety that tells them they may be blamed. Though often they can't really explain how.

It's only a small step to "I'd better not say ... in case they think I'm a ... "

In fact 'chronic low-level anxiety' is a pretty good description of modern life. That's what needs to change.


Yet question them about mobile phone use whilst driving........
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bovlomov
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby bovlomov » 27 Mar 2015, 12:49am

reohn2 wrote:Yet question them about mobile phone use whilst driving........

..or countless other stupid and dangerous things.

In the case of phones whilst driving, perhaps the warm feeling of chatting with a friend numbs the sense of danger - and sense of responsibility to others.

thirdcrank
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Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 27 Mar 2015, 6:50am

I'll reiterate that the point I made is about complying with the Highway Code. Here's part of a different HC rule, Rule 163 on overtaking, edited to keep to my point.

... give ... cyclists ... at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car


https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-t ... 162-to-169

That was always criticised as being meaningless, or at least ambiguous, as many drivers overtake other cars leaving a narrow margin, so presumably to avoid rewriting it, an illustration has been added. Some riders believe that creates a legal requirement, when it's only advice.

What I tried to get across in my OP and subsequently is that the HC is at the heart of many prosecutions after a crash. A contested prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving will be heard by a jury. A hypothetical case might involve a rider on a busy, rural main road, where the rider was hit and killed by an overtaking lorry. Part of the prosecution case would probably be based on Rule 163, because overtaking with the margin shown in the illustration would have prevented any risk of collision. The defence might be some version of the rider suddenly and unexpectedly joining the main carriageway. I'm suggesting that, apart from any probable prejudice about helmets and against cyclists more generally, any demonstrable ignoring of the HC by the deceased is something for the defence to latch onto when urging the jury to acquit.

We have no certain way of knowing how juries reach verdicts, but I hope that even those who are convinced that I am talking rubbish will accept that the conviction rate for killing cyclists is disturbingly low. (At least from the POV of cyclists and their families.)