Yet another flawed bike helmet study:
Researchers analyzed the number of U.S. bicycle deaths between 1999 and 2010 and found that states with bicycle helmet laws reported about 20 percent fewer bike-related fatalities among people younger than 16 years old.
“The impetus is that when you make it a law, parents realize it’s important and parents get their kids to do it,” said Dr. William Meehan, the study’s lead author from Boston Children’s Hospital.
About 900 people die as a result of bicycle crashes every year in the U.S. and about three quarters of those are from head injuries, according to Meehan and his colleagues.
Previous research has found that wearing a helmet may reduce a person’s risk of a head or brain injury by up to 88 percent, but few studies have looked at the effect of helmet laws on national injury and fatality rates.
If you read the actual paper, the final sentence shows the problem with the methodology:
The present study did not address the effect of helmet laws on ridership.
There are other problems. The paper (unless there is a longer version?) lacks any data, just presenting the conclusions. It does not correlate bike fatalities against a state’s overall traffic fatality rate.
However, the biggest problem with this (and all other helmet studies) is the lack of data on bike facilities. Bike helmets are no substitute for proper bike facilities. Instead of focusing on bike helmets, states need to provide safe routes for kids to ride away from the danger of motor vehicle collisions.