Injuries confirm merit of helmets

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While cycling advocates call for a review of New Zealand's mandatory helmet law, a Northland cycling advocate says the law is preventing serious injuries.

Police have issued over 1500 tickets to Northland cyclists for not wearing helmets in the past 10 years - 157 in 2011.

Bike Northland cycling co-ordinator Stuart Bell said a review of the helmet law could potentially jeopardise the safety of cyclists.

"The law is actually good as it stands. There's some people who want to be able to ride with their hair blowing in the wind or whatever, well that's fine.

"But in all honesty, if you're on the roads and you're not wearing a helmet then there's a fairly good chance if you do have an accident you're going to do yourself a hell of a lot more damage than if you are."

Mr Bell said the cost to the health system of serious head injuries was huge and potentially increasing that cost wasn't justified by the "slight inconvenience of wearing a helmet".

"It's the same as people saying, 'I don't want to wear a safety belt because it might crinkle my blouse'. It's stupid, it's ridiculous."

Nationally, police have issued more than 85,000 tickets to cyclists not wearing helmets in the past 10 years.

Fourteen cyclists have died on New Zealand roads and 332 have suffered serious injuries since January last year, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) figures show.

Two of the dead cyclists were not wearing helmets.

Non-compliance can result in a $55 infringement fee or maximum $1000 fine on summary conviction.

Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) spokesman Patrick Morgan said the organisation wanted the helmet law reviewed as it deterred potential cyclists.

Cycle lanes and vehicle speed reduction were more important priorities, he said.

Tickets Issued

  • Past 10 years (nationally) 87,738

  • 1602 tickets issued in the past 10 years in Northland - 147 waived

  • 135 tickets issued in Whangarei policing area in 2011 - 117 waived

  • 22 tickets issued in Far North policing area in 2011 - 30 waived

- Northern Advocate

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