Irish parents could be fined if children don't wear helmets

Irish debating change to law for under 13 year-olds

by Sarah Barth   July 2, 2012  

White cycle helmet

Parents of children who do not wear bike helmets will be fined, under new plans for cycle safety in Ireland.

After an EU-wide audit of child safety made a recommendation for helmet wearing, Ireland is considering rolling out the measure by 2016.

Also in the proposals is cycle safety training for all seven- and eight-year-olds as part of the school curriculum.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is looking at making helmets compulsory for children up to 13 years old, according to the Irish Independent.

Some research has shown that countries with mandatory helmet laws have reduced rates of head injury. But campaigners say that enforced helmet-wearing creates a perception that cycling is dangerous and cuts the number of people taking part.

Australia and New Zealand began to implement helmet laws for all cyclists in 1990 and 1994 respectively. A survey in New Zealand earlier this year suggested that helmet requirements had halved the number of cyclists on the road.

Helmets are already mandatory in 13 European countries, and the UK is planning to implement a similar law for the under-14s.

Last month, we reported how Swiss MPs voted overwhelmingly against helmets for minors, saying that it was a matter for personal responsibility.

Eight cyclists under the age of 15 have died in Ireland in the last three years.

7 user comments

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Eight cyclists under the age of 15 have died in Ireland in the last three years. Sad though that is, you have to ask if they would have died had they been wearing a helmet.

posted by alun [44 posts]
2nd July 2012 - 18:47

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I have to say, I'm surprised that you publish stuff without doing even the most basic check for accuracy.

"Helmets are already mandatory in 13 European countries, and the UK is planning to implement a similar law for the under-14s."

Helmets are mandatory in almost no countries in Europe, and certainly nowhere near 13.

Neither are there any plans for the UK to implement a helmet law for under 14s.

You also fail to point out that the "EU-wide audit of child safety" was extremely selective, and like most such audits, refused to look at the most reliable evidence which shows that helmets don't make you safer on a bike. This audit was completely biased, as all the press reports quote from it the completely discredited 85% figures from the grandaddies of helmet promotion, Thompson, Rivara and Thompson. The briefest independent research would have found out that this figure is bad science and has been completely disproved on peer review, and isn't even supported by the people who produced it any more. There's a simple test for the validity of helmet research: if it quotes the 85% figure it's rubbish.

Even more interesting is what happened to professional racers when helmets were made mandatory: did the death rate go up or down? Well, it appears to have gone up considerably, with one estimate saying that it's trebled.

Check out cyclehelmets.org for a few facts rather than just repeating the biased reports of others.

burtthebike

posted by burtthebike [66 posts]
2nd July 2012 - 20:32

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alun wrote:
Eight cyclists under the age of 15 have died in Ireland in the last three years. Sad though that is, you have to ask if they would have died had they been wearing a helmet.

So very wrong.

For a start, do you know whether any of the victims were wearing a helmet? You could instead have asked:

1. For those without one, would wearing one have made a difference? Unlikely if they were hit by a car or larger vehicle.

2. What are the real causes of deaths and injuries to cyclists in road collisions?

Emotional blackmail and offloading responsibility onto the vulnerable road user by forcing them to wear a polystyrene hat full of holes will never be the answer.

8 cyclists in 5 years is 8 too many, but nothing will be fixed by mandating they wear helmets and ignoring the sacred bull. As burththebike wrote above, people should stop the polemical crap and instead look at independent, reliable evidence. Why is that so difficult for so many people when discussing this subject?

I just hope there are groups in Ireland like the CTC that have some influence. This kind of legislation was raised and thankfully failed in Northern Ireland last year.

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posted by Simon E [1886 posts]
2nd July 2012 - 22:59

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Ireland needs money. Such rules come in here only to raise revenue.

posted by KMcD [27 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 7:51

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Don't do it Ireland! If you want cycle safety for children build GOOD cycle paths around schools so that children can cycle to school in safety: a polystyrene helmet only protects your brain and not much at that, avoiding collisions full stop should be the priority here.

"A survey in New Zealand earlier this year suggested that helmet requirements had halved the number of cyclists on the road."

As a New Zealander at school in the 80s and 90s I would say this estimate is very conservative. Parents unprepared to risk fines started driving their kids to school, increasing traffic on the school run and making it more dangerous for anyone who cycled, and then as cars got bigger and drivers less used to driving around cyclists, cycling for transport dropped right out of the mainstream and became a dangerous and inconvenient (for everyone else) pastime.

Add to this, a whole generation of kids grew up being told that the roads are for cars, now they all are grown up and drive accordingly. Many of my friends would never let their kids ride on the road, aside from it not being safe they simply dont think that is what roads are for.

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posted by sparrow_h [35 posts]
4th July 2012 - 10:06

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"Helmets are already mandatory in 13 European countries, and the UK is planning to implement a similar law for the under-14s."

Mmmmmm I don't think so. Please list them or retract this statement

posted by shockleader [20 posts]
9th July 2012 - 18:47

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What's the betting that this was written from the press release, someone new to the need to read balancing papers when any item comes in regarding helmets.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [468 posts]
12th July 2012 - 2:49

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