A new study has found that a combination of compulsory helmet laws and improved cycling infrastructure has lead to an incredible reduction of serious cyclist head injuries in New South Wales, Australia. Over the past twenty years, the number of injuries has dropped by roughly 50 percent.
The study comes out of the University of New South Wales and was led by Dr. Jake Olivier. It was pubished in the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal. The results found that cycling has enjoyed a rapid growth in popularity in New South Wales, but hospital admissions for serious head injuries has dropped at a rate of 4 percent every year.
They collected data starting from the implementation of the mandatory helmet laws in 1991 and ending in 2010, investigating other types of bike-related injuries as well to differentiate between head injury and bike accident rates.
In line with the rise of popularity of cycling, arm injuries rose 145 percent from 1991 to 2010, while head injuries only rose 20 percent. In the context of the popularity increase, as well as a general population increase, this is actually a drop in the rate of head injuries.
The implementation of laws such as these has greatly improved the safety rates of bicycling in New South Wales by lowering the number of serious injuries. Using them elsewhere will likely lead to similar results. It is only a matter of time before we begin seeing them popping up in America.