The helmets thing

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.
irc
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby irc » 12 Jul 2015, 12:15am

Bicycler wrote:IMO it is highly unlikely that not wearing helmet could ever be viewed as making somebody liable for causing collision. It is more likely that it could be views as contributory negligence mitigating the extent of another's liability for the cyclist's injury. AFAIK UK courts have never yet accepted this argument.


It was accepted in the case of Gary McCourt in Scoland. He was convicted in 2013 of causing death by driving without due car and attention. Notably this was the second cyclist he had killed while driving.

The decision of the Sheriff though (in regard to the helmet) was overturned on appeal. The solicitor general suggesting that different experts held different views on the value of helmets.

The Solicitor General referred to three documents lodged on behalf of the Crown for this appeal in this regard. The first was an article entitled "The efficacy of bicycle helmets against brain injury" published in a professional journal entitled "Accident Analysis and Prevention" in 2003; the second was a presentation to the Gloucestershire Accident Action Group on 24 June 2002 by a consultant in cycling skills and safety; and the third was an article entitled "No clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets" written by a senior statistician and published in the British Medical Journal in March 2006. The Solicitor General did not seek to endorse or refute the views expressed in these documents, but submitted that they indicated immediately that this was a matter of dispute, in which different countries and different professional men of skill and expertise held different views. There were considered opinions on each side of this debate; it could not properly be regarded as a matter within judicial knowledge. There was no evidence before the sheriff that Mrs Fyfe's decision not to wear a helmet contributed significantly to her death; the sheriff's views on this matter were mere speculation.


http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2013HCJAC114.html

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby mjr » 12 Jul 2015, 2:49am

GrumpyCyclist wrote:My only reason for raising the seatbelt comparison was the similarities in the arguments about "it should be my choice" rather than proofs or otherwise about effectiveness. I remember a huge upswell of people saying it should be my choice but now we all wear them without thinking.

No, we don't all wear them. I did a survey for someone a few years ago (I think it was the AA), examining passing cars, and a surprisingly large minority don't wear seatbelts. In recent cars with those beepers that sound if you try to drive without wearing one, they sit ON TOP of the clipped in belt.

The other big difference is there's nothing like crash test dummy tests of helmets. It's mainly straight drops of disembodied head forms onto the top of the head straight down. I read about one test using torso and head, but no full body tests so things like rotation effects are under-tested IMO.
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby TonyR » 12 Jul 2015, 9:02am

irc wrote:
Bicycler wrote:IMO it is highly unlikely that not wearing helmet could ever be viewed as making somebody liable for causing collision. It is more likely that it could be views as contributory negligence mitigating the extent of another's liability for the cyclist's injury. AFAIK UK courts have never yet accepted this argument.


It was accepted in the case of Gary McCourt in Scoland. He was convicted in 2013 of causing death by driving without due car and attention.


Not in the matter of compensation it wasn't. This was about the leniency of the sentence for the driver and as you say a higher Court agreed, with reference to previous Court cases, that the Sheriff was wrong on that count. It reiterates that medical opinion is divided and anyone wanting to claim that not wearing a helmet made a difference needs to bring medical evidence in front of the Court that the Court can test. This will be a precedent that can be used in future cases and I would have thought could be used by most lawyers in resisting a reduction for not wearing a helmet in any settlement.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Cunobelin » 12 Jul 2015, 9:24am

Bicycler wrote:
GrumpyCyclist wrote:
Nobody is pretending that civilisation will collapse if cycle helmet use is made compulsory. I'm sure the majority of cyclists would - in time - comply.


Not the evidence....

In countries where helmets have been made compulsory, large numbers simply no longer cycle

The number of cyclists dropped immediately and did not at any point recover to the pre legislation level.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby GrumpyCyclist » 12 Jul 2015, 9:28am

As I said I'm not advocating it be made compulsory, I just don't think I've got an overly strong opinion either way. Right now, it wouldn't put me off going on the bike if it was
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Bicycler » 12 Jul 2015, 9:58am

Cunobelin wrote:
Bicycler wrote:
GrumpyCyclist wrote:
Nobody is pretending that civilisation will collapse if cycle helmet use is made compulsory. I'm sure the majority of cyclists would - in time - comply.

Not the evidence....
In countries where helmets have been made compulsory, large numbers simply no longer cycle
The number of cyclists dropped immediately and did not at any point recover to the pre legislation level.

I mentioned falling numbers of cyclists more than once including in the paragraph you took that sentence from. Undoubtedly numbers of cyclists would fall and not everybody cycling would comply with the law, particularly without zealous enforcement. Nevertheless, given current wearing levels, it is a realistic expectation that a majority of cyclists would - in time - come to comply with helmet laws

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby [XAP]Bob » 12 Jul 2015, 10:23am

They might - but you'll never get decent cycling levels, you'll kill hire bikes dead and therefore increase the motor dependence on the UK, and the attendant health problems...
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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Bicycler » 12 Jul 2015, 11:01am

Agreed totally, we're singing from the same hymn sheet. The full post from which that sentence was selectively quoted:

Bicycler wrote: What you are missing with that analogy is that seat belt use was (and still is) only mandatory for those whose cars already (or originally) had them fitted. Thus the only effect of the law was to require people to clip in the belt which was already conveniently located next to their seat. It is hard to describe that as a major inconvenience. If you make cycle helmets compulsory you are compelling people to buy helmets (and replace them at regular intervals), suffer the discomfort of wearing them and lug them around once they have reached their destination.

Nobody is pretending that civilisation will collapse if cycle helmet use is made compulsory. I'm sure the majority of cyclists would - in time - comply. That is not to say that the law would be universally followed without strict enforcement. If we look at the poor compliance with other compulsory cycling items such as reflectors and lights at night it is highly likely that many people riding bikes would not follow helmet rules. So it would really require a good deal of police time, money and effort put into clamping down on helmetless cycling. I can't be alone in thinking that, keeping in mind current police budgets, there are much more important things which could be done with those valuable commodities to improve cyclists' safety. Mostly by tackling the people, vehicles and behaviours which actually kill cyclists, helmeted and unhelmeted alike. As I mentioned in earlier posts, evidence suggests that the other likely effect would be a significant drop in the number of cyclists on the roads and this would be a complete disaster for attempts to increase cycling levels and create an everyday cycling culture. Great...

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Smiler1968 » 12 Jul 2015, 11:07am

Bicycler wrote:Two common but rather unhelpful distractions have been raised here. The first is "my helmet saved my life" claims. I say it is a distraction for three reasons; it relates to an individual unique set of circumstances, it cannot be verified, and it is based upon the subjective view of one individual. But, I hear you say, surely someone knows if an impact is such that their injury would have been worse without a helmet? Well, no, actually the evidence is that people seem to be very poor judges of this. Otherwise we would see far fewer reports of "my helmet saved my life!" because very, very few cyclists are killed yet everybody knows people who claims their life has been saved - even this forum has quite a few amongst its membership. We would also see a huge disparity between the numbers of helemeted and unhelmeted cyclists killed which simply isn't the case.


Regardless I remain convinced. I have had my fair share of tumbles whilst mountain biking or otherwise. I've never before felt that the helmet made any difference. As you say, it refers to a unique set of circumstances, I accept that. But those circumstances only have to come together once for it to result in a serious outcome. As a result my CHOICE is to wear one. I'll continue to wear one. I still don't believe that they should be made compulsory.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Bicycler » 12 Jul 2015, 11:22am

Hi Smiler,

Just to be clear I'm not attempting to criticise your choices or your freedom to make them. It is none of my concern what others wish to wear and I don't judge people for wearing helmets. Some of my best friends are... :D As has been repeated many times on here nobody is anti-helmet in the sense that they want to force or even persuade others not to wear them, we object to compulsion and the pressure which is placed upon cyclists to wear helmets. Unfortunately this pressure is often contributed to by emotive (and sometimes graphic) anecdotes of the "helmet saved my life" variety. Whilst no-one can say whether an individual claim is accurate (we cannot repeat the experiment without a helmet), such claims are very common and as such the majority of these claims are demonstrably false. We must, therefore, be sceptical about the evidential value of such claims. I feel it is important to add that qualifier when I hear the claim made in order to balance what might otherwise appear a very compelling and persuasive statement of fact.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby TonyR » 12 Jul 2015, 6:22pm

Bicycler wrote: Nevertheless, given current wearing levels, it is a realistic expectation that a majority of cyclists would - in time - come to comply with helmet laws


Perhaps you should watch this video comparing a city with a mandatory helmet law with one without and then reconsider.


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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby TonyR » 12 Jul 2015, 6:31pm

maxcherry wrote:Helmets will never become mandatory though. It would be racist/discriminatory to make them compulsory and not even the UK Government would sink that low.
You can get special dispensation to 'Not wear a seat-belt'.


You clearly haven't followed the politics of helmets in the UK. There have already been at least five recent serious attempts to get mandatory helmet laws into legislation. They were defeated though by concerted campaigning including politician education programmes in which the CTC was heavily involved behind the scenes. In Jersey (not part of the UK I know) it has become compulsory for children and Northern Ireland had a close call - again the CTC played a significant role in that outcome.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby Steady rider » 12 Jul 2015, 7:09pm

One additional point about the Highway Code, that is revised about every 10 years. Clearly opinions are divided on the merits of either helmets or legislation. When the Code is next revised, if the advise does not change, it could be subject to legal proceedings. The human rights, discrimination and safety issues could all be included in a test case.

irc mentioned
The Solicitor General did not seek to endorse or refute the views expressed in these documents, but submitted that they indicated immediately that this was a matter of dispute, in which different countries and different professional men of skill and expertise held different views. There were considered opinions on each side of this debate; it could not properly be regarded as a matter within judicial knowledge.


So would the DfT advise that cyclists
should
wear helmets, without any warning, be considered suitable?
Bearing in mind the Introduction to the Code. I think it would be misleading to simply say you should wear a helmet, implying that the evidence must be sound.

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby TonyR » 12 Jul 2015, 7:55pm

Its not quite like that. The Solicitor General was saying it was outwith the competence of the judiiciary to opine on the merits of the differing opinions on helmets without having had the evidence presented and debated in Court. Remember an appeal is to review whether the process had been correct, not to rehear and re-decide on the evidence

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Re: So......this helmets thing

Postby ossie » 12 Jul 2015, 9:14pm

Cunobelin wrote:
TonyR wrote:
irc wrote:In fact if a cyclist was slightly less cautious of low branches because of a helmet's protection he might be at an increased risk of hitting one hard enough to crash.


Back in the days where I wore a helmet, a low branch caught in a vent and pulled me off the bike backwards. Ended up on the ground with a very sore neck.


Ride a recumbent trike - low branches cease to be a problem


so why do you wear one ?

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