Babies and children * Young people

Cycle helmets should be compulsory for children

call for helmets for children to be compulsory Doctors demand change in law

Doctors specialising in children's emergency medicine are demanding the government introduce a law to make bicycle helmets compulsory for under-16s.

Currently UK law allows people the choice to wear bicycle helmets or not, but doctors say they play a vital role in reducing the risk of serious head injury if an accident occurs.

At their annual conference today in London, members of the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine (APEM) overwhelmingly agreed that a law change was needed.

“Children can face an estimated 70% reduction in brain function after a traumatic brain injury and some never recover. As an expert and a parent I feel it is just common sense - anything that can protect our children from this risk should be compulsory,” said Ian Maconochie, APEM President and consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine.

Each year approximately 90,000 on-road and 100,000 off-road bicycle accidents occur in the UK, over half involving children. Research has found that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe brain injury by 75%.

Dr. John Heyworth, President of the College of Emergency Medicine said: " As an Emergency Medicine consultant I have seen a number of children present with serious head injuries resulting from bicycle riding. It is extremely frustrating to know the extent of these injuries could have been dramatically reduced had the child worn a helmet.”

This article was published on Fri 18 September 2009

Image © Anders Lundstedt -

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