Today national law firm Fletchers has launched a campaign to call for cycling helmets to be compulsory for children.
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Roberts, five times British BMX Champion and Team GB BMX Cyclist, has signed up to the Fletchers campaign, saying “All it takes is one crash or fall from a bicycle to change your life forever”.
“Cycling helmets are one way of helping to prevent head injuries. For a BMX racer the helmet is the most essential piece of protection as crashes are hard and frequent. I’ve had to replace numerous helmets following crashes where my head has hit the ground hard”.
“The helmets have been destroyed on impact, an indication of how hard my head has hit the ground but thankfully I’ve escaped head injuries with no more than the occasional knock-out”.
Brain injury charity Headway and British Superbike (BSB) champion, Tommy Hill, have also come on board to back Fletchers campaign.
Twenty-two-year-old Sinead King has signed up to Fletcher’s campaign because she is still receiving treatment for a brain injury she sustained as a child, when she fell a few feet to the ground falling off her Barbie bike age six. Sixteen years on Sinead is still receiving physiotherapy.
In 2008 she spent the entire summer in plaster and in a wheelchair following an operation to lengthen her Achilles tendons, which had seized as a result of her left-sided weakness.
Ed Fletcher, Director at Fletchers, the firm leading the campaign said: “Cycling can be dangerous and while adults can take some responsibility for their own safety, children are less aware of the serious consequences of cycling without a helmet”.
“There is a perception that injuries can only be caused if the rider falls from a great height or at speed. The case of Sinead who fell a few feet at almost standstill shows that many of the injuries children can suffer simply by not wearing a helmet can be life changing. I have two children myself and their safety is my top priority”.
“Sadly, we as a law firm only encounter these injuries when it is too late. We want to campaign for change at the root of the problem and secure a change in the law. It won’t eradicate cycling injuries amongst children, but it will reduce it”.
Sinead is now helping to lead the campaign to make it compulsory for children to wear cycle helmets because she knows only too well that had she been doing so all those years ago, she would have avoided the devastating consequences of that fall.
“We all think it will never happen to us; I would never have thought that a tiny bicycle could have such a significant impact on my life” she said.
“Young people may think it is uncool to wear a helmet but there’s nothing cool about having no hair and a horse shoe-shaped scar where there were 36 staples in your head. I was unable to walk, talk or do simple things like go to the bathroom on my own. My family spent countless hours agonising over my condition and how it would continue to affect me for so many years to come”.
“I don’t want other people to go through this, which is why I am backing Fletcher’s campaign to make cycle helmets for children compulsory”.
Fletchers Lids for Kids campaign says evidence shows that children are less likely to suffer brain injuries if wearing a helmet.
Ed Fletcher points to the Cochrane Review which states that helmets provide a 63 to 88 per cent reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists.
“This is an extremely robust and important study which proves that we need to look after our children to avoid another sad tale like Sinead’s” he said.
The Government has done its own research into whether helmets are effective. It commissioned the independent Transport Research Laboratory to look at all the evidence available. In November 2009, it published its findings, which showed helmets – if worn correctly – do indeed offer protection against head and brain injury.
Jacob Roberts, says: “Children are especially vulnerable cyclists due to their lack of ability and reduced awareness of hazards. If every child wore a helmet from the first time of riding a bike then it would soon become the ‘norm’ for all”.
Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, said: “The evidence is clear: cycle helmets can save lives and help prevent lifelong disability. We believe all cyclists should wear helmets, particularly vulnerable road users such as children”.
“At Headway, we know the devastating effects a brain injury can have and how easy it can be to damage the brain. Society has a duty to protect children from sustaining preventable brain injuries and we believe making cycle helmets compulsory for children will do just that. We are therefore backing Fletchers Solicitors’ Lids for Kids campaign”.
Figures out recently from the Department of Transport showed that 19,215 cyclists were injured in road accidents in 2011 – a 12 per cent rise compared to 2010.