SHOULD CYCLE HELMETS BE MADE COMPUSORY?

SHOULD CYCLE HELMETS BE MADE COMPUSORY?

With the increase in popularity of cycling in the UK after the Olympics and the “Wiggins effect” accidents as I reported in an earlier blog are on the increase. The debate is now moving on to whether wearing helmets should be made compulsory in the UK.
I have just been watching an interview on BBC news with a man whos 16 year old son is in a coma after and accident. He is now pushing for the wearing of helmets to be law. However the Cyclists touring club stated that their concern is that in countries that have made it law there has been a dramatic fall in the number of people using bikes.
This link to Wiki shows which countries have the compulsory wearing as law.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet_laws_by_country
For myself, I never used to wear a helmet but since taking up cycling more seriously I never go out without my lid, and a good one at that. I would be interested to hear other thoughts about this.

This is taken from this very interesting page. http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html

How cycle helmets work

Cycle helmets protect the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and brain are accelerated or decelerated by an impact. The helmet acts like a shock absorber. As it is impacted, the expanded polystyrene liner is intended to crush,  dissipating the energy over a rapidly increasing area like a cone.

Helmets reduce the force of an impact only while the polystyrene liner is compressing. Once the liner is fully compacted, a helmet offers no further protection and passes residual energy straight on to the skull and brain. There is no evidence to suggest that helmets continue to provide a reduced level of brain protection beyond their design limits.

When helmets fail, they do so catastrophically, rather than gradually, by breaking. The breaking of a helmet is not by itself evidence that it has provided useful protection to the wearer. It is common for cycle helmets to fail prematurely, before the polystyrene liner has been fully crushed. Indeed, very often helmets break without the liner compressing at all, perhaps because they have been subjected to oblique forces, not directed at the head, that they are not designed to withstand. If a helmet breaks without its liner compressing, it is likely that no more than superficial protection would have been afforded.

In cases of high impact, such as most crashes that involve a motor vehicle, the initial forces absorbed by a cycle helmet before breaking are only a small part of the total force and the protection provided by a helmet is likely to be minimal in this context. In cases where serious injury is likely, the impact energy potentials are commonly of a level that would overwhelm even Grand Prix motor racing helmets. Cycle helmets provide best protection in situations involving simple, low-speed falls with no other party involved. They are unlikely to offer adequate protection in life-threatening situations.

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