This entry was posted on Sunday, October 26th, 2008 at 12:28 pm and is filed under Helmet compulsion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
A news report filed by a San Francisco stringer for the Associated Press has just used the following bizarre headline: Girl riding bicycle without helmet on struck by car.
Now, let’s ignore the poor English (it was the girl not wearing a helmet, not the bicycle) and let’s examine the wonky logic.
Cycle helmets are designed for low-speed crashes from low heights to kerbs, they offer next to little protection in smashes with cars. Today’s polystyrene helmets with microshell covers are a lot less protective than the Snell-tested helmets of old but even the heavier, harder and less stylish helmets of the 1990s weren’t designed to guard against impacts with autos. (Just try to find a Snell-tested helmet nowadays, it’s next to impossible. Too tough a standard, cyclists want style, light weight and lots of vents. This makes today’s helmets much more wearable, but a lot less safe).
The headline writer is pretty much blaming the victim, culpable because she wasn’t wearing an item of safety equipment that wouldn’t have afforded her much protection in any case. The report said the girl was injured, but didn’t say there was any head trauma involved.
It’s headlines like these which make it a lot easier for lawyers to argue for reduced compensation payments for crashed-into cyclists who choose not to wear helmets.
When will some brightspark lawyer realise there are plenty of stats that show driving is an extremely dangerous activity? An activity in which the participants use passive safety devices only: seatbelts, crumple zones, airbags. Thousands of lives would be saved each year if motorists chose to wear rally-style helmets and flameproof clothing. Motorists who chose not to wear such sensible garb - even for short trips - would be deemed part-culpable in any compo claim.
After that? Helmet compulsion for motorists (flameproof clothing shouldn’t be compulsory, there are an awful lot more driving-related head injuries compared to burns). If only one life was saved, it would be worth it.