The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA) has recently web-published a study on mandatory bicycle helmet laws in six jurisdictions in the United States. The study examines the introduction, passage, and implementation of helmet laws with a focus on enforcement issues; factors in the passage and implementation of helmet laws; whether or not the effectiveness of these helmets laws was being measured; and factors that influenced whether or not these helmet laws were evaluated.
Some of the points I found interesting:
When discussing arguments against mandatory helmet laws, the study authors listed "The law could lower bicycle ridership" and claimed "little data exist to support or rebut this argument."
The posture of the bicycling community on these laws was mixed: some groups supported legislation (usually minors-only laws); some were opposed; and some were divided on the issue.
In several jurisdictions, motorcyclists who opposed motorcycle helmet use laws also actively opposed bicycle helmet use laws.
Officers cited challenges in ticketing children. “Who do you give the ticket to? Do you put the bike in the trunk and drive the child home?”
The law conjures the distasteful image of “troopers ticketing kids.”
An issue often raised, chiefly by those in the bicycling community, was that bicycle safety efforts are (or are perceived to be) singularly focused on the adoption of bicycle helmet use laws. They observed that bicycle helmet use laws do not “solve” all bicycle safety problems yet they are concerned that the focus on bicycle helmet use laws distracts attention and resources from other bicycle safety issues.
Because cycling is no more likely to result in head injury than riding in an automobile, mandatory helmet use for cyclists is ridiculous. The experience in Australia with their mandatory bike helmet law has been disasterous for cycling, with mandatory bicycle helmet use resulting in increased hospital admissions in spite of the reduced popularity of cycling, and damage to overall public health.
If you are fighting mandatory bicycle helmet legislation in your area, I urge you to read Avery Burdett's Helmet FAQ.
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Although enforcement is difficult and the police do have better things to do. Helmets are very affodable now and having several friends survive crashes because of a helmt, I can't see why people are opposed to helmet. Free choice, yes. It is there choice.