Cycling helmets : survey of wearing behaviour and reasons / Stefan Siegrist, Roland Allenvach, Caroline Regli
Bern : BFU, 1999
(BFU Report; 41).
Descriptoren: cycling. behaviour. helmets. interviews. accident prevention. effectiveness. road safety. telephone surveys. attitude. safety measures
In 1998 cycling accidents led to 10,000 head injuries, which in 35 cases proved to be fatal.
Evidence for the effectiveness of the cycling helmet has been provided by studies in various countries as well as by surveys carried out by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention bfu. If every cyclist were to wear a helmet, 7,700 injuries and 30 deaths could be prevented every year. Furthermore, some CHF 700m in social accident costs could be saved annually. Considering the often serious and cost-intensive nature of head injuries, it is therefore imperative that a preventive strategy based on encouraging the wearing of a helmet should be evolved. However, the prevention options depend on the actual behaviour of cyclists, their behavioural motives and their attitudes towards a possible legal requirement to wear a helmet.
Experience gained from various strategies shows that psycho-pedagogic methods (advertising campaigns, road safety training, incentives, local initiatives) can lead to an increase in the wearing rate by up to about 30% when costly campaigns containing several elements are involved. Swiss efforts during the 1990s are probably responsible for the fact that the helmet-wearing rate has risen from below 4% to 18%. Most of the campaigns throughout the world are aimed at children or, more precisely, at their parents. In this case the direct communication with the parents seems to be an important factor for success; concerned parents tend to be more easily influenced. On the other hand it doesn’t make any difference to what extent the parents are convinced of the benefit of wearing a helmet. The few experiences of behavioural legislation concerning helmet wearing suggest that this measure should only be introduced if the extent of negative side effects, like young cyclists switching to the more dangerous moped, is negligible. This condition is not satisfied if the wearing rate prior to introduction of the legislation is below 50 %...
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