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Photo of mangled helmet shared more than 30 million times after cyclist walks away from crash

Ben Hobbs was hit by recycling truck but had miraculous escape - thanks, he says, to helmet

A cyclist who was run down by a recycling truck and narrowly avoided being killed has said a shared a graphic photo online of his mangled helmet online could warn others of the dangers of riding without one.

Ben Hobbs, 46, was riding to work near his home in Devon in March when he was hit by the truck. He was knocked off and suffered a broken spine, broken ribs, broken sternum and a head injury.

The photo of the Specialized Echelon helmet has since been shared more than 30 million times and sparked intense debate online.

He told the Western Daily News: "It's quite surprising that the image has had such an impact. It has been shared around the county and I'm really grateful for that.

"I've heard cyclists say that helmets are not the be all and end all because they only cover certain places but the helmet certainly worked for me."

He said: "I don't know what speed I was going at when the driver cut across in front of me but I didn't have time to stop.

"I was on my way to work and it was about 9am when the accident happened. There were a few people who stopped to help and a fantastic first aider who had to stop me from trying to get up.

"People kept telling me that I was in a mess but I didn't know what was going on. I kept trying to get up and I didn't know I had a serious spinal injury.

"I don't remember much but the first thing I can clearly remember is being in the ambulance. In the hospital I still didn't accept that it had happened to me and kept trying to get out of bed in the night.

"By day three a nurse sat down with me and said you've broken your back and you need to stay in bed."

The father of two is still recovering rom his injuries at home.

He said: "My head injury was right on the top of my head. The helmet has done the job for me.

"I'm a good rider and I'm confident. Nothing like this has happened to me before and I've been riding since I was four or five.

"I ride about 6,000 miles a year in Devon and commute to work everyday which is about 13 miles. I had just finished doing a complete overhaul of my bike and it was in 100 per cent condition.

"You've got no control of what will happen when you are on the roads. As a cyclist I make a balanced decision and go by the theory that you need to expect the unexpected. You don't know what people are going to do."

Mark Walker, a first responder for South Western Ambulance Service, shared the photo on his Facebook page after he was sent it by a colleague.

He said: "He is a lucky man. If it had been his head that had hit the van he wouldn't be here today. He was wearing the helmet in the correct position and it took the pressure of the impact.

"This is a powerful image and that shows the importance of wearing a helmet when cycling on the road."

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133 comments

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Mcleaver | 8 years ago
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Ridiculous! If his head had been in the helmet, it would also have been mangled. The helmet obviously came off and got mangled afterwards. Intriguing is who tried to sell this hoax.

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Jeffmcguinness | 8 years ago
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I always wear a helmet, I can't understand how you pretend you're in the pro-peleton without one...

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gdmor10 | 8 years ago
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As I always say on the helmet debate.

Cycling without a helmet is absolutely fine, it is hitting your head on the pavement where the problems start.

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HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
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Quote:

For those who doesn't wear helmets. Only you will regret it and suffer when you do get into some kind of accidents. No one else.
But hey you might regret it then but who cares you probably brain damaged enough to be a veg or dead.

1. Do some finger-wagging moralising.
2. Feel you're winning the argument by imagining the people who disagree with you with brain damage.

Not cool.

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hsiaolc replied to HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:
Quote:

For those who doesn't wear helmets. Only you will regret it and suffer when you do get into some kind of accidents. No one else.
But hey you might regret it then but who cares you probably brain damaged enough to be a veg or dead.

1. Do some finger-wagging moralising.
2. Feel you're winning the argument by imagining the people who disagree with you with brain damage.

Not cool.

1. .....
2. Not arguing. Only when you are dead or hmm near dead then it is one of those I told you so thing.

Again its your life not mine. Do what you like to do. Yes what I say is not cool but most things that is not pleasant are not cool.

Like someone point out and I noticed too that most cyclists in the city of London wear a helmet so most people do care about their lives and believe it does do something.

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Pjrob | 8 years ago
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Only yesterday in Melbourne, the first place to have a helmet law and strictly enforced, I was tootling along a bike trail through paddocks by the river and stopping to look at where famous artists had painted.
I was effectively doing an art tour but people on fast bikes kept staring and giving dirty looks over my lack of a helmet.
The only other cyclists were going really fast.
Thats what helmets do to your thinking.
The mindset is changed so that all you see out riding are those that ride with the assumption cycling is a high-risk sport that therefore needs protective equipment.
Many of the accidents where its claimed the helmet saved their lives were influenced by that change of mindset and it is a good bet that they were riding accordingly.

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fenix | 8 years ago
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Helmet row aside - thirty million shares ? That doesn't sound credible to me. Where did they get that from ?

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fenix | 8 years ago
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Helmet row aside - thirty million shares ? That doesn't sound credible to me. Where did they get that from ?

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hsiaolc | 8 years ago
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For those who doesn't wear helmets. Only you will regret it and suffer when you do get into some kind of accidents. No one else.
But hey you might regret it then but who cares you probably brain damaged enough to be a veg or dead.

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Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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Just want to say, I like the attitude of the rider involved.

Don't ware a helmet if you want - but I'll never understand the veracity of the 'anit-helmet' brigade.

Quote:

From the photo, it looks as though the impact far exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, and instead of squashing to absorb energy it broke apart. The unreasoned, emotive nature of such helmet posts makes me wish that basic scientific and statistical training was compulsory in secondary schools.

WRONG. The smashing of the helmet will have absorbed some of the impact. Yes the impact exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, but the helmet still did its job as it was being smashed.

If I am going to take that impact to the head - I'll prefer to have a helmet, even if the helmet cannot absorb the complete impact. I wonder how many of the 'anit-helmet' brigade would seriously prefer to take that blow to the naked head?

Quote:

related:
Jeez someone needs to tell these mad dutch folk to get helmeted up pronto

No. NOT Related at all.
If I was riding a sit-up-and-beg bike, like those in the picture, on flat terrain at the relaxed pace they will be riding at ... then I would not ware a helmet either. In that environment, it probably is unnecessary.

But - this guy was riding a road bike round Devon country roads.... totally different environment, and totally different speeds.

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farrell replied to Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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Must be Mad wrote:

Just want to say, I like the attitude of the rider involved.

Don't ware a helmet if you want - but I'll never understand the veracity of the 'anit-helmet' brigade.

Quote:

From the photo, it looks as though the impact far exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, and instead of squashing to absorb energy it broke apart. The unreasoned, emotive nature of such helmet posts makes me wish that basic scientific and statistical training was compulsory in secondary schools.

WRONG. The smashing of the helmet will have absorbed some of the impact. Yes the impact exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, but the helmet still did its job as it was being smashed.

If I am going to take that impact to the head - I'll prefer to have a helmet, even if the helmet cannot absorb the complete impact. I wonder how many of the 'anit-helmet' brigade would seriously prefer to take that blow to the naked head?

Quote:

related:
Jeez someone needs to tell these mad dutch folk to get helmeted up pronto

No. NOT Related at all.
If I was riding a sit-up-and-beg bike, like those in the picture, on flat terrain at the relaxed pace they will be riding at ... then I would not ware a helmet either. In that environment, it probably is unnecessary.

But - this guy was riding a road bike round Devon country roads.... totally different environment, and totally different speeds.

Wow, so not only does polystyrene have the capability of protecting your head from the full weight of a truck (despite falling apart instantly) but Dutch bikes also have magic properties that means that means that they ward off the possibilities of even having an accident.

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Ush replied to Must be Mad | 8 years ago
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Must be Mad wrote:

Don't ware a helmet if you want - but I'll never understand the veracity of the 'anit-helmet' brigade.

That's truer than you'll ever know.

Must be Mad wrote:
Quote:

From the photo, it looks as though the impact far exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, and instead of squashing to absorb energy it broke apart. The unreasoned, emotive nature of such helmet posts makes me wish that basic scientific and statistical training was compulsory in secondary schools.

WRONG. The smashing of the helmet will have absorbed some of the impact. Yes the impact exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, but the helmet still did its job as it was being smashed.

When a helmet breaks instead of crushes it absorbs a miniscule amount of energy. Helmets are only useful for very simple, specific low-speed falls not involving other vehicles. In that situation they are good at preventing cuts and tears to the scalp. They are not useful in the prevention of brain damage.

While you obviously know it all, there might be a tiny bit of information out there which contradicts your certainty.

Must be Mad wrote:

If I am going to take that impact to the head - I'll prefer to have a large lever attached to it to increase the radius and maximise my chances of DAI and torsional injuries to the spine, even if the helmet cannot absorb the complete impact. I wonder how many of the 'anit-helmet' brigade would seriously prefer to take that blow to the naked head?

There, fixed that for you. Probably to no avail. Carry on in your ignorance please.

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atgni replied to Ush | 8 years ago
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Ush wrote:

There, fixed that for you.

Yawn.

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lolol | 8 years ago
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I wear a helmet, mostly, not always. I went over on the ice this winter and my helmet saved me from a bang on the head that would have hurt, and that's all its designed to do, but grateful as I am I still don't expect a bit of polystyrene to save from some fuckwit driver running me over. Education and proper legislation is what's needed, cycle awareness in the driving test, that might actually help.

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barbarus | 8 years ago
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It looks like the oncoming Dutch cyclists are about to take out that woman in white going left to right; she needs a helmet!

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antonio | 8 years ago
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I'll keep it simple, 'Bollocks'.

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KoenM | 8 years ago
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People still debating the helmet didn't help, dig the sand away before your eyes! They do help! And no they wont stop every cycling death, but why wouldn't u wear one, do u think your not sexy wearing one? Well u aren't sexy in a hospital bed or a coffin!

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Daveyraveygravey | 8 years ago
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I had two accidents this winter on the ice, and both times I hit my helmeted head hard; first time no damage to anything, second time broke my wrist. Have always worn a helmet, and I know all the arguments for and against. Why are these threads so annoying? Don't make wearing them compulsory, but is there really any benefit in not wearing them?

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ChairRDRF replied to Daveyraveygravey | 8 years ago
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Daveyraveygravey wrote:

I had two accidents this winter on the ice, and both times I hit my helmeted head hard; first time no damage to anything, second time broke my wrist. Have always worn a helmet, and I know all the arguments for and against. Why are these threads so annoying? Don't make wearing them compulsory, but is there really any benefit in not wearing them?

Interesting the way that nobody ever mentions risk compensation: one of the reasons that whole population studies show zero , minimal or even negative benefits is that wearers (and possibly other road users) change their behaviour.
That shouldn't mean that people should be prevented from wearing them, in my view. But it does mean that we might get away from the red herring that is helmet advocacy. That would be a "benefit".

Take a look at www.ccyclehelmets.org for evidence, and a brief summary of the evidence from New Zealand here http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/27/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-l...

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Simon E | 8 years ago
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Anecdote is not evidence.

If tomorrow he claims to be Jesus do you believe him then as well?

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Judge dreadful | 8 years ago
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Well, there is nothing more I can add. I am a wearer, this is why. Each to their own.

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antigee | 8 years ago
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"the driver cut across in front of me but I didn't have time to stop"

helmet mitigates the consequence of bad driving

live in the land of mandatory helmets

bad driving is the problem

my message don't patch it - fix it

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AJ101 | 8 years ago
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Maybe the driver took the chance to cut across him because he saw the cyclist was wearing a helmet and would therefore be safe. Risk Compensation and all that...

related:
//caa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Groningen-traffic-jam.jpg)
Jeez someone needs to tell these mad dutch folk to get helmeted up pronto

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oliverjames replied to AJ101 | 8 years ago
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Notice that they're not only not wearing helmets (no need) but they're also not wearing lycra.

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Kadinkski | 8 years ago
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Mangled helmet debate continues with people saying the same thing more than 30 million times after road.cc posts more helmet clickbait.

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crikey | 8 years ago
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Quote:

Might be slightly quicker to put on a helmet

Might be quicker, but wouldn't appear to be any more effective because helmets don't stop cyclists dying, and the research and the evidence for this is available to you, sat there, on your computer.

...it's a helmet thread, it will be full of all the usual clichés and I've worn them and not worn them for a very long time and I know that a picture of a crushed piece of polystyrene is easier to post than any sensible nuanced comment on the facts.

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harrybav | 8 years ago
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Could we debate the lack of body armour rather than the helmet, just for novelty? I mean, broken spine, anyone?

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farrell | 8 years ago
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Did the helmet really save or prevent anything?

I'd say once it had been burst open due the weight of a truck bearing down on it, it wasn't protecting from any impact at all.

You could argue that there is a slim chance that it could still protect from abrasions once it had failed but we know that in this instance it really, really didn't:
https://twitter.com/AsEasyAsRiding/status/593329369344512000

I hope the guys recovers fully, and he did have a lucky escape, but it had cock all to do with his helmet.

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Ush replied to farrell | 8 years ago
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farrell wrote:

Did the helmet really save or prevent anything?

I'd say once it had been burst open due the weight of a truck bearing down on it, it wasn't protecting from any impact at all.

You could argue that there is a slim chance that it could still protect from abrasions once it had failed but we know that in this instance it really, really didn't:
https://twitter.com/AsEasyAsRiding/status/593329369344512000

I hope the guys recovers fully, and he did have a lucky escape, but it had cock all to do with his helmet.

From the photo, it looks as though the impact far exceeded the capabilities of the helmet, and instead of squashing to absorb energy it broke apart. The unreasoned, emotive nature of such helmet posts makes me wish that basic scientific and statistical training was compulsory in secondary schools.

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ned68201 | 8 years ago
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Of course Mike, that's the answer. Be thankful that you live in a country where you're still free to make your own idiotic choices. Meanwhile the many of the rest of us will take simple, basic precautions to ensure we do our bit for our own personal safety rather than holding out our hands and expecting the government to do it for us.

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