Paul Scuffham and John Langley, Injury Prevention Research Unit, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand


      Twelve months before the wearing of a cycle helmet was to become mandatory in New Zealand [in 1993], a substantial proportion of cyclists on public roads had 'voluntarily' adopted wearing a helmet. Helmet wearing rates had increased up to 84%, 62%, and 39% [from virtually zero in 1980] for primary school children, secondary school children, and adults respectively by the end of the period of interest. The purpose of this study was to examine the serious injury trends for three age groups of cyclists: primary school age (5-12 years), secondary school age (13-18 years), and adults (over 18 years) admitted to selected public hospitals between 1980 and 1992; Twelve months before the introduction of helmet legislation. Serious injury was defined as "admitted to hospital" then disaggregated by type of crash and length of stay. Statistical models were constructed that included the proportion of people admitted to hospital with head injury, then analyzed using Poisson regression. Results revealed that the increased helmet wearing percentages has had little association with serious head injuries to cyclists as a percentage of all serious injuries to cyclists for all three groups, with no apparent difference between bicycle only and all bicycle crashes. Discussion of the results includes possible explanation for the absence of a decline in the percentage of serious head injury among cyclists as cycle helmet wearing has increased.


        1. emphasis added
        2. data in the report shows cycling declined by 19% from 1989 to 1992.

      Full Reference:

        Scuffham, P.A., and Langley, J. D., Trend in Cycling Injuries in New Zealand Under Voluntary
        Helmet Use, Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol 29, No 1, 1997

      November 1998

November 1998
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