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Experts release detailed rebuttals of NSC claims.
By Irish Cycling Campaign
24 May 2004,

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Press Release From: Irish Cycling Campaign

Date: Monday 23 May 2004

The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation (BHRF) has intervened in the ongoing public controversy about the activities of the National Safety Council (NSC). The BHRF is an international coalition that includes doctors, cycling safety experts, statisticians and people with professional involvement in helmet design and performance. The NSC recently sparked fury among Ireland's cyclists by calling for compulsory cycle-helmet laws in Ireland. This was immediately rejected out of hand by the three main cycle-campaign groups and their national umbrella body: the Irish Cycling Campaign. Particular anger was sparked by the claims the NSC had made about the effects of similar laws in Australia. On its website, the NSC has referred to five reports as supporting its position.

This week, on their own website, the BHRF have released detailed rebuttals of the claims made by the NSC. ( The claims for every one of the NSC's supporting documents have now been either discredited or rejected as irrelevant to the debate. The NSC has claimed that the Carr report of 1995 showed that the Australian cycle-helmet law had reduced injury rates. In fact, a detailed review of the same data indicates that the effect seen was actually due to significant reductions in the number of cyclists and that the law actually lead to increased accident risks for Australian cyclists. The NSC has claimed that a Canadian study (Le Blanc et al 2002) had found a benefit from a helmet law. However, a rebuttal published in the same journal, using the same data, showed that in fact there was a 40-60% drop in cyclist numbers, no change in head injury rates, and a significant increase in non-head injuries. The NSC has claimed that a New Zealand study (Povey et al 1999) had shown a benefit from a helmet law.

Again, a rebuttal published in the same journal, using the same data, found that the claimed benefit was a statistical abberation - Povey's method would also show that voluntary helmet wearing has a 15 fold greater "beneficial" effect than compulsory helmet wearing. Reanalysis of the data to take account of existing injury trends indicated that in fact the helmet law produced no demonstrable benefit in terms of injury reduction.

The BHRF and Irish cycle campaigners have remarked that the NSC's choice of supporting material is highly one-sided. Even where dissenting views and direct rebuttals are published in the same journal, the NSC makes no apparent reference to this material. Irish Cycle Campaigners have raised strong concerns that the helmet-law proposals, and the supporting claims, are actually motivated by the commercial desires of a motor-insurance lobby anxious to avoid compensating those injured by its customers.


More info at:
The NSC's claims:

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