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Paper Encourages Increase in Helmet Laws

Victor Lewin - Friday, November 08, 2013

Nova Scotia is one of only four provinces that require all bicyclists to wear helmets, and the Canadian Paediatric Society is pushing for all other provinces and territories to adopt the same law. The hope is that the number of head and brain injury cases will be reduced. The society is also seeking stricter safety regulations throughout the country.

Currently, only Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia require all cyclists to use helmets, while Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba require their use by children. While some adults are expected to protest helmet laws, citing their ability to make their own choices, adults who wear helmets may serve as role models for children. Other suggestions included adding bicycle lanes to roads and offering tax exemptions or rebates to decrease the cost of bike helmets.

Studies have indicated that legislation on the subject of helmet use has proven effective, as evidenced by an increase in helmet use after such laws were passed. For example, one study found a 20 per cent increase in the use of helmets used by children between the ages of 5 and 14 within two years after a helmet law for minors was passed in Ontario. Similarly, the use of helmets rose by up to 26 per cent for cyclists under the age of 15 after an all-age helmet rule was passed in British Columbia.

A paper from the Canadian Paediatric Society states wearing a helmet decreases the risk of a serious head injury from occurring by 69 per cent, according to one systematic review. If a cyclist takes safety precautions such as wearing a helmet and riding in a designated bicycle lane but is still caused injury by a negligent driver, that cyclist may use the legal system to pursue the driver with a lawsuit.

Source: Toronto Star, "Pediatricians push to make helmets mandatory for cyclists of all ages", Paola Loriggio, November 04, 2013

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