Cyclists’ Alcohol Consumption Helmet Use and Head Trauma in Germany

cyclists and alcohol

Source: Coach Cox

The association of cyclists’ alcohol consumption and helmet use in Germany is the focus of this research paper published in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention.

The paper titled “Alcohol consumption, helmet use and head trauma in cycling collisions in Germany” reached some interesting collusions none of which really shows in my view a strong linkage between riding a bicycle, wearing a helmet and head trauma.

The authors suggest that the aim of the study was

to establish which cyclist and cycling accident characteristics are associated with alcohol consumption and helmet use in Germany, and to identify risk factors related to head trauma sustained in cycling accidents.

The authors concluded that:

  • Female riders were less likely to have consumed alcohol
  • Cyclists who did not wear a helmet were more likely to have consumed alcohol
  • Cyclists who were not responsible for the collision were less likely to have consumed alcohol than those who were partially responsible for the accident
  • Cyclists involved in collisions with another vehicle, motorised or not, had a lower risk of suffering a head injury compared with those involved in single-vehicle accidents

It should also be noted that helmet use is low in Germany, reported at 15% in the study and that according to the study the cyclists who drank alcohol and rode their bikes are more likely to not wear a helmet. The authors then concluded that the

finding confirms the evidence emerging in previous studies, which showed that cyclists alcohol consumption is associated with other unsafe riding behaviours, in particular the failure to use a helmet.

Whilst wearing of helmets maybe higher amongst sober cyclists, given that 85% of cyclists in Germany don’t wear a helmet I think the author’s findings against cyclists drinking and riding needs further investigation. After all the initial sample of 4928 cases was reduced to 242 cashes who where actually subject to an alcohol test.

All that said an interesting contribution to the literature.

The full reference for the paper is as follows:

Orsi, C., Ferraro, O. E., Montomoli, C., Otte, D., & Morandi, A. (2014). Alcohol consumption, helmet use and head trauma in cycling collisions in Germany. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 65, 97-104.

6 Responses to Cyclists’ Alcohol Consumption Helmet Use and Head Trauma in Germany

  1. James 3 February 2014 at 4:34 AM #

    Don’t bother telling Bicycle Network or their buddies in Queensland or Tasmania. Their collective heads are shoved so far in to the proverbial the sand, this wouldn’t even register.

    • Andrew 3 February 2014 at 1:02 PM #

      Are referring to helmets here or other issues with them? I know here in WA BIcyclingWA is opposed to 1.m – 1.5 m safe passing distances. Struggling to understand their logic on that one.

  2. Ride2Wk 3 February 2014 at 5:58 AM #

    ” other unsafe riding behaviours, in particular the failure to use a helmet “. Why this silly social misconception that “not wearing a helmet” considered an unsafe riding behaviour? I’ve seen many examples of unsafe riding by people with helmets. If helmets were so important for safety then people should wear them when drinking, walking, driving a car & putting up Xmas decorations. (Molly Meldrum – bike helmet ad.) All of those cause large numbers of head injuries.
    These studies of people who HAVE crashed really start at the wrong level. If they want to understand human risk behaviour then they also need to study those riders who have NOT crashed. UK studies of crash victims showed that helmets failed to prevent most injury & might have been helpful in only a small proportion of cases. Too many people put a helmet on & think they are protected when really they are not..

    • Andrew 3 February 2014 at 1:03 PM #

      Thanks for your comments. This paper really does seem to fall down on way to many points to justify publication.

  3. curlynz 1 March 2014 at 3:15 PM #

    High visibility, especially clothing, is an interesting issue. From my experience of city daytime riding, I seem to have had more ‘close shaves’ with cars in cities when wearing a bright yellow top than I do wearing my blue or green tops. I wonder if the hi-visibilty top draws the motorist’s eye to you (and consequently the vehicle drifts closer to the cyclist) as they pass. I also use a flashing red rear light at all times.

    An interesting discussion paper, although I do not agree with all outcomes.

    • Aushiker 1 March 2014 at 6:37 PM #

      Thanks for your comments. I also do wonder about the benefit of hi-viz during the day. There has been some interesting related research including …

      Hagel, B. E., Romanow, N.T.R., Morgunov, N., Embree, T., Couperthwaite, A. B., Voaklander, D., & Rowe, B. H. (2014). The relationship between visibility aid use and motor vehicle related injuries among bicyclists presenting to emergency departments. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 65, 114-122.

      Wood, J. M., Tyrrell, R. A., Marszalek, R. P., Lacherez, P. F., Carberry, T. P., Chu, B. S., & King, M. J. (2010). Cyclist visibility at night: Perceptions of visibility do not necessarily match reality. Journal of Australasian College of Road Safety, 21(3), 56-60.

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