Written by Gene Maryushenko.
Last week, when I posted a new infographic on bike helmet use and asked for some feedback from prominent bike bloggers, I received a mixed response (mostly critical).
Many of you gave frank opinions about some figures that are incomplete, such as the “67%” statistic. It was pointed out that just because 67% were not wearing a helmet, does not mean every one of the riders died from head injuries directly relating to lack of head protection.
Based on the information in the infographic this does appear inaccurate. What I failed to include is a comparison statistic that highlights the striking difference in fatality figures between the two categories.
15% – the percentage of fatalities for 2011 where helmets were used. Is it possible that the extra 52% of the riders died from causes unrelated to head injuries? Yes. Is it probable? Most likely not. A look at the actual data from FARS may paint a better picture.
A more accurate image would indicate the speed at which collisions occur, that result in preventable brain injuries due to lack of helmet use.
Furthermore, the image would display crash-worthiness figures of various brands / types of popular helmets and their ability to withstand impact (supported by data).
Another point that was made by several people is that wearing a helmet may not save your life at all when involved in an accident with aggressive or inexperienced drivers. Poor infrastructure was also pointed at as one of the causes of fatalities included in this image. In comparison, some Scandinavian countries where urban areas are much more bike-friendly see far fewer accidents.
There seems to be a general consensus that bike helmets have prevented serious injuries in many of your own past experiences, which tells me this wasn’t a completely wasted effort to promote helmet use.
Your feedback is much appreciated and will lead me to provide more complete statistical data via graphical format.