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Do Cycle Helmets Work? We Know They Do!

Posted on Thursday 12th November 2015 by Adrian Cormack

Speaking as a cycle accident victim and a personal injury solicitor, I would always urge riders to wear a helmet. Always – no matter how short the journey.Adrian Cormack - Partner, Coles Miller

My injuries would have been much more severe than a chipped tooth had I not been wearing a helmet on the day I was knocked off my bike.

Why has the question arisen? A major new study by the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia suggests compulsory cycle helmet legislation does not reduce head injuries.

But here’s the harsh reality under UK law…

If you are knocked off your bike and the defendants can provide that your injuries would have been reduced by wearing a helmet, then your compensation will be cut by 25 per cent.

And that could make a massive difference to how well you can fund any treatment and long term care following a serious injury.

This time of year is always very dangerous for cyclists. Dark nights and poor weather make the roads much more hazardous.

Our personal injury lawyers always see a significant increase in cycle accident claims across the UK after the clocks go back.

It gets worse the closer we get to Christmas. And not just because of drink driving. Motorists become more careless, distracted by the rush to get everything done by December 25.

Some people behave as if a helmet gives the rider a magic aura of protection: some motorists drive too close; some cyclists ride more recklessly.

It’s a lethal combination, made worse by the fact that cyclists can be virtually invisible to drivers in poor weather and dark conditions.

Don’t believe me? Make a point of seeing how visible (or not) cyclists are the next time you’re travelling in a car at night. It’s a real eye opener.

Cyclists, we implore you please to:

  • Use high quality flashing lights. Have two rear lights – one on your bike and another at driver eye level on your back or your helmet.
  • Keep your lights bright and clean, use fresh or well charged batteries.
  • Wear a high visibility top with plenty of reflective strips. Without them, even bright fluorescent tops are hard to see in the dark – especially if they are old and faded.
  • Treat cars as even more of a danger than usual at this time of year – drivers are less likely to see you in poor weather; stopping distances will be longer.
  • Beware of winter hazards such as slippery leaves on the road or icy potholes.
  • Avoid the busiest roads whenever possible, especially at rush hour – make use of cycle paths and routes that keep you safely away from cars (and respect pedestrians on shared paths).

And remember, a helmet can protect you only from injuries to the outside of your head. No helmet can ever save you from a severe deceleration injury caused to your brain.

Have you been involved in a road accident? Coles Miller is a Legal 500 recommended law firm that specialises in personal injury and clinical negligence cases across the UK.

For more information, contact Coles Miller Partner Adrian Cormack, head of the Personal Injury Department.

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You have made, what I thought was going to be, a very long and laborious and stressful matter very easy to deal with. I wouldn't have any hesitation in recommending yourself and Coles Miller to anyone should the need arise.