TRENDS IN CYCLE INJURY IN NEW ZEALAND
UNDER VOLUNTARY HELMET USE
Paul Scuffham and John Langley, Injury Prevention Research
Unit, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Twelve months before the wearing of a cycle helmet was to become
mandatory in New Zealand [in 1993], a substantial proportion of cyclists
on public roads had 'voluntarily' adopted wearing a helmet.
Helmet wearing rates had increased up to 84%, 62%, and 39%
[from virtually zero in 1980] for primary school children,
secondary school children, and adults respectively by the end
of the period of interest. The purpose of this study was to
examine the serious injury trends for three age groups of
cyclists: primary school age (5-12 years), secondary school
age (13-18 years), and adults (over 18 years) admitted
to selected public hospitals between 1980 and 1992;
Twelve months before the introduction of helmet legislation.
Serious injury was defined as "admitted to hospital"
then disaggregated by type of crash and length of stay. Statistical
models were constructed that included the proportion of people
admitted to hospital with head injury, then analyzed using
Poisson regression. Results revealed that the increased
helmet wearing percentages has had little association with
serious head injuries to cyclists as a percentage of all
serious injuries to cyclists for all three groups, with no
apparent difference between bicycle only and all bicycle
crashes. Discussion of the results includes possible explanation
for the absence of a decline in the percentage of serious head
injury among cyclists as cycle helmet wearing has increased.
1. emphasis added
2. data in the report shows cycling declined by 19% from 1989 to 1992.
Scuffham, P.A., and Langley, J. D., Trend in Cycling Injuries in New Zealand
Helmet Use, Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol 29,
No 1, 1997