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Australian debunking of helmet law critiques



Summary: Two Australian studies have concluded that the arguments advanced against Australia's helmet laws are bogus.



The first study is from the Medical Journal of Australia, and is titled "No strong evidence bicycle helmet legislation deters cycling" The authors are listed as Olivier J, Boufous S, Grzebieta RH. The issue is Med. J. Aust. 2016; 205(2): 54-55. The abstract says:

"A focus on helmet legislation detracts from concerns about cycling infrastructure and safety

Opponents of helmet legislation often argue that mandatory bicycle helmet legislation (MHL) is the primary impediment to an increase in cycling. The public debate regarding MHL recently flared up with the Leyonhjelm Senate inquiry and the Australian Capital Territory proposing a relaxation of their MHL in low speed areas. As there are numerous health and social benefits to cycling, such arguments need to be evaluated with rigour against the highest quality evidence available."


The second article has an inflammatory title: Anti-helmet arguments: lies, damned lies and flawed statistics. It appeared in the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety Volume 25 No.4, 2014.

The abstract says:
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 anti-MHL organisations.

The entire article is available as a pdf here starting on page ten.
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