Bicycle helmets reduce risk of injury by 60 percent: Norwegian study

New Norwegian research shows that cyclists reduce their risk of head injuries by 60 percent when they wear helmets, but experts wrangle on the question of making them mandatory by law.

Over half of all Norwegians who ride bicycles do not use helmets, according to figures from the Norwegian Council for Road Safety- writes

A new study shows that helmets reduce the risk of serious head trauma by 60 percent, reports ScienceNordic .

Turned around, that means you run nearly twice the risk of serious head injury in an accident if you are not wearing a helmet. Head injuries are the most common fatal injuries among bicyclists in road accidents.

Moreover, helmets reduce the risk of serious brain damage and face injuries. The total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists drops by 34 percent when they have these protective shells around their skulls.

Bike helmets have the greatest effect in accidents in single-bicycle accidents than when the bike rider crashes with a motor vehicle.

Single-bike accidents occur in lots of ways: For example when you skid on slippery roads, brake too hard and take a tumble, do a front flip when a shopping bag swinging from your handlebars snags in your spokes, not to mention all the other lessons you can learn about the laws of motion while trying to avoid crashing into a garbage bin or a telephone pole.

None of the above is pleasant, but getting hit by a car, bus or truck can very easily be worse.

The new study was recently published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Here, Alena Høye of the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research (TØI) published the results of a meta-analysis covering 55 studies about the relationship between use of bike helmets and head injuries, whether they be from single-bike accidents or collisions with motor vehicles.

Most children in Norway, 87 percent, use helmets when riding their bikes according to a study from 2015. In 2006 the corresponding share had been 63 percent. In the same period, helmet usage among adults rose from 32 percent to 56 percent.

The new study shows that the protective effect of bicycle helmets is the same for children and adults.

“We might have thought that helmets have a greater protective effect on adults because they cycle faster or because their spills are from higher up,” Høye said, speaking to ScienceNordic.

“On the other hand, children cycle less in traffic and we could expect them to have a higher proportion of single-bicycle accidents, where helmets have a greater effect.”

But the results show no differences in this respect; bike helmets are equally important for adults and children.”

Many countries have laws requiring the use of bicycle helmets, including Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. It is mandatory in Sweden too, but only for children.

Norway has no such helmet law – at least not yet.

The issue has been debated back and forth in Norway. Earlier research showed that the use of helmets did not lead to fewer accidents.

“Of course we cannot expect helmets to reduce accidents,” says Høye.

This is because even though cyclists who wear helmets on average have fewer and less serious accidents than those who don’t, their numbers are skewed on the side of caution – according to Høye they tend to be generally more safety conscious.

They also are more likely to have ample lights on their bikes, use reflectors and ride less often on sidewalks. Pedestrian pavements are statistically riskier for cyclists than streets or bike lanes.

“With a mandatory helmet law we could expect to reduce head injuries among cyclists,” says the researcher.

Researchers and avid cyclists have presented disparate arguments when the mandatory use of helmets has been debated in Norway. Their experiences and positions vary. Several arguments have been made against a helmet law.

“Cyclists often tend to compensate for the effect of a helmet by feeling more confident and riding faster. This can counteract and lessen the injury-reducing effect,” said researcher Aslak Fyhri in an article published by ScienceNordic’s Norwegian partner He works at TØI’s section for safety and the environment.

Another argument is that some people would quit riding bikes if forced to wear helmets.

According to Fyhri, the cyclists who would quit pedalling in this instance also tend to be in the category of cautious types, persons who less frequently get in accidents. In this case, a mandatory helmet law could actually raise the general risk of accidents because a larger share of those still on bikes would be the aggressive and risk-taking types.

“The issue of whether a law would impact the number who use bicycles is uncertain,” asserts Høye.

“Some studies have indicated that the number of cyclists would dip but that this decrease is usually relatively short-lasting. The biggest drop would actually be amongst the cyclists who use their bikes the least, so this negative impact on cycling and health and safety would be limited.”

Høye says that other factors entirely often have an impact on decisions whether to use bikes as a means of transportation.

“Substandard and unsafe cycling infrastructure, or the lack of it altogether, is higher up on the list. Other things too, like the availability of showers at the work place have shown themselves to be more important than helmet laws,” she says.

Read more news of Oslo on our site.
Norwegianstudy Bicyclehelmetsreduceriskofinjury cycling safety cyclehelmet
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Norway said on Friday it was freezing all defence material export licences to Saudi Arabia over recent developments in the country and the war in Yemen. The announcement came amid international outrage over Riyadh's killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October, though Norway did not mention the murder specifically. "We have decided that, in the current situation, no new licences are to be granted for exports...
An operation was underway Thursday to try to stop a Norwegian navy frigate from sinking after it collided with a Maltese oil tanker in a fjord in western Norway. Eight people received minor injuries in the accident, which took place shortly after 4:00 am (0300 GMT) in a busy waterway in the Hjeltefjord near Bergen, Norway's military said. The 137 people on board the KNM Helge Ingstad frigate, which was returning from Nato's Trident Juncture exercises, were...
Far from the sun-kissed beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Ipanema, Brazilian surfer Gil Ferreira plunges into Norway's icy waters to ride over the dark swells of the Arctic. Swapping shorts for a thick-skinned wetsuit and gloves, Ferreira braved freezing weather, rain and seals in the Lofoten Masters, the only surf competition held in the extremes of the Northern Hemisphere. Ferreira was one of 32 participants in this year's Lofoten tournament, which increasin...
The Coca-Cola Company wants local brand Tøyen-Cola’s new product Jallasprite to be banned with the claim of trademark infringement and violation of the marketing act. According to Vårt Oslo’s report, Jallasprite and Tøyen-Cola’s producer Jarle Hollerud has been informed by Coca-Cola Company that the case will be taken to the district court in Oslo, if he does not stop using the name Jallasprite before Friday. The Coca-Cola Company also requires that all bo...
A Norwegian navy frigate and an oil tanker from Malta collided in Øygarden in western Norway. Seven people were injured. Returning from Nato’s Trident Juncture exercise, KNM Helge Ingstad frigate collided with the Sola TS oil tanker, Norwegian Royal Army confirmed. A total of 137 people were on board the frigate while 23 were on the tanker. The oil tanker received only slight damage, while the frigate has been seriously damaged. A small oil slick from the...
The Norwegian cheese Fanaost was named as the world’s best cheese during the World Cheese Awards in Bergen on Friday night. A total of 3,472 cheeses from all over the world participated in the competition to become the world’s best. Norwegian cheese Fanaost, from the producer Ostegården in Bergen, won the competition, writes NRK. Fanaost, according to the manufacturer, is a mild, round and semi-solid cheese that reminds Gouda, made from pasteurized cow mil...
Prime Minister Erna Solberg does not want to change abortion practice in Norway, but will remove “discriminatory element in the law”, according to Dagens Næringsliv. Solberg has been criticized for her willingness to negotiate changes in the Abortion Act, as she needs the support of Christian Democrats (KrF) for her bourgeois government. In an interview with the newspaper, Solberg says that women should still be able to use abortion right after 12 weeks if...
There is inequality in reading skills among school students in Norway than in 19 other OECD countries, a research report from UNICEF shows.   Countries such as Latvia, Spain and Finland make it by easier. This is reflected in UNICEF’s research report An Unfair Start: Inequality in Children’s Education in Rich Countries. It ranks 41 member states of the EU and OECD in terms of degree of inequality in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. The purpose...
The «hot» missions that Joshua French has confirmed that he and Tjostolv Moland were involved in as mercenaries in Congo may be in violation of Norwegian law, writes the Norwegian newspaper, VG.   The Norwegian Violent Crimes Unit (Kripos) will consider a review of the assignments related to the security company SIG Uganda, which Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French were active in before entering Congo on the fateful trip in May 2009. VG is informed by severa...