Anti-Helmet Arguments: Lies, Damned Lies and Flawed Statistics

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 2014, 25 (4), pp. 10 - 23
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Bicycle helmets are designed to mitigate head injury during a collision. In the early 1990’s, Australia and New Zealand mandated helmet wearing for cyclists in an effort to increase helmet usage. Since that time, helmets and helmet laws have been portrayed as a failure in the peer-reviewed literature, by the media and various advocacy groups. Many of these criticisms claim helmets are ineffective, helmet laws deter cycling, helmet wearing increases the risk of an accident, no evidence helmet laws reduce head injuries at a population level, and helmet laws result in a net health reduction. This paper reviews the data and methods used to support these arguments and shows they are statistically flawed. When the majority of evidence against helmets or mandatory helmet legislation (MHL) is carefully scrutinised it appears overstated, misleading or invalid. Moreover, much of the statistical analysis has been conducted by people with known affiliations with anti-helmet or antiMHL organisations.
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