Cyclist deaths are at a five-year high and as a result the government is faced with heightened calls for helmets to be made compulsory.
Road safety is paramount in reducing death rates, and in order drive these figures down it is the view of many that cyclists should be made to wear helmets.
However, not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Despite the fact that 122 cyclists were killed in 2012, the majority of cycling safety campaigners are actually against the introduction of compulsory helmets.
The police and government have been accused of somewhat deceiving the public about the issue, with campaigners suspecting that the issue at stake may be the actual safety of the roads rather than the cyclist wearing a helmet.
Relevant information not being recorded
Campaigners have also learned that guidance from 2011 specifically asking the police to record whether cyclists were wearing helmets at the scene of an accident is being ignored.
This has led British Cycling, the national governing body, to ask for a “full review of the justice system”.
As deaths on the road are increasing, British Cycling is stressing the importance of relevant information being recorded to ensure crashes are thoroughly investigated and is calling for steps to be taken to ensure conditions on the road are improved.
Helmets can only do so much
Mr Gibbs, policy and legal affairs director at British Cycling, said: “Cycle helmets are only effective in reducing certain types of head injuries, at lower speeds and lower forces.
“The majority of fatalities involve forces far in excess of the capabilities of helmets, such as those involving HGVs. Issues relating to road conditions, driver awareness and junction design are more important than whether the cyclist wore a helmet.”
The Independent on Sunday contacted the Department for Transport (DfT), which relies on police data to compile statistics on road accidents, only to find it had no idea of how many of the cyclists involved in fatal accidents were wearing helmets at the time.
We’d still recommend wearing a helmet
Steven Beard, Senior Litigation Manager at Lampkin & Co Solicitors said: “It’s true that helmets are only able to withstand an impact a lower velocity but over the many years we’ve been helping cyclists that have been injured we’ve seen plenty that have been saved by wearing a helmet. We’ve also seen plenty that have needed our expertise in supporting their claim for a head injury too and in many cases that’s simply been down to them not wearing a helmet. We’d always recommend wearing a helmet and support any calls for improved road safety by making roads more cycle-friendly.”