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Compulsory helmets legislation and cyclist head injuries: NSW data

Riding a bicycle with a helmet

 

The issue of compulsory helmets legislation continues to be topic of debate, one that the authors of this paper, The impact of compulsory helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia: A response suggests, “draws attention away from important ways in which both safety and participation can be improved through investment in well-connected cycling infrastructure, fostering consideration between road users, and adequate legal protection for vulnerable road users.”

That aside I suspect the debate about mandatory helmet laws in Australia will not subside anytime soon.

Putting aside the merits of the authors’ comment, this post is about bringing attention of those interested the authors response to criticism of their early paper, their 2011 paper, titled The impact of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia which was published in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention, in 2011.

Walter, Olivier, Churches and Grzebieta have published again in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention. This second paper is titled The impact of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia: A response.

The abstract for this paper is as follows:

This article responds to criticisms made in a rejoinder (Accident Analysis and Prevention 2012, 45: 107–109) questioning the validity of a study on the impact of mandatory helmet legislation (MHL) for cyclists in New South Wales, Australia. We systematically address the criticisms through clarification of our methods, extension of the original analysis and discussion of new evidence on the population-level effects of MHL. Extensions of our analysis confirm the original conclusions that MHL had a beneficial effect on head injury rates over and above background trends and changes in cycling participation. The ongoing debate around MHL draws attention away from important ways in which both safety and participation can be improved through investment in well-connected cycling infrastructure, fostering consideration between road users, and adequate legal protection for vulnerable road users. These are the essential elements for providing a cycling environment that encourages participation, with all its health, economic and environmental benefits, while maximising safety.

Whilst the paper responds to the criticism by Rissel (2012) I am not sure it adds much more to our understanding of the impact of mandatory helmet laws on head injury reduction.

The citation for the paper is:

Walter, S. R., Olivier, J., Churches, T. & Grzebieta, R. (2013). The impact of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia: A response. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 52, 204-209.

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