Analysis of Australian Mandatory Helmet Law III

OK, day three, I might actually get to the original paper.

Before I get into it, let’s got through the pro-helmet fall back positions.

1. Helmets save many lives.

2. Even if they can’t be proven to save lives, they save some lives.

3. OK, even if they don’t save lives, they prevent minor injuries and scrapes on the scalp.

4. Wearing a helmet can’t hurt, at least, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I have addressed the above before, but I’ll restate my argument against #4.

Recall when Steve Jobs got cancer, and he tried alternative medicine? http://gawker.com/5849543/harvard-cancer-expert-steve-jobs-probably-doomed-himself-with-alternative-medicine

“Harvard Cancer Expert: Steve Jobs Probably Doomed Himself With Alternative Medicine”

I propose, that helmets are the quack medicine of road safety.

But it gets worse!

When weighing on whether one should personally wear a helmet or not, it is assumed that the helmet has almost no cost and that the potential benefit is one’s life. Thus, it seems absurd to NOT wear a helmet.

Not so fast!

Helmets are actually quite expensive.

Let’s just say that only 10% of Australians ever cycle (http://www.cycle-helmets.com/cycling-1985-2011.html).

This means that out of roughly 22 million people, we have 2.2 million cyclists. If each of them buys a single helmet in their lifetimes, they will spend $66,000,000 on cycling helmets. Again: CYCLISTS IN AUSTRALIA SPENT ROUGHLY SIXTY SIX MILLION DOLLARS IN CYCLING HELMETS.

If they spent the money on political candidates alone, they could buy any election.

Or imagine that money were used in infrastructure?

I have previously proven that lower speed limits or creating separate infrastructure will save many lives. Thus, SPENDING ON HELMETS IS PISSING AWAY MONEY WHICH CAN BE USED TO SAVE LIVES ON SNAKE OIL.

In terms of time, if people only spent five minutes buying, maintaining, checking, and replacing helmets, you’d wind up with a solid 20 wasted man/years (thats time in years of a single person working for 20 years or 20 people working for a full year without breaks nor sleep) on helmets safety. Imagine if you spent the 20 man/years of labor on something, anything else. Again, these are bare minimum numbers.

This doesn’t count the number of academics who are studying helmets and writing papers on them.

Some of the studies have come out which say that helmets are actually not only useless for saving one from most fatality situations, but they are also useless for their intended use:

“The Cochrane Collaboration and bicycle helmets. Accid. Anal. Prev. 37, 569–573] disputing a conclusion of a Cochrane Collaboration review, namely, that it establishes scientific evidence that all types of standard bicycle helmet protect against injury to the brain. In response to the conclusion of Cummings that the review’s case–control studies provide such evidence, I explain that their design is inadequate to do this.”

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457506001758

Furthermore, researchers are on to the bullshit notion that helmets cost nothing and provide tons of protection:

“The main ground of rebuttal is that my critics take the relevant efficacy of helmets as given and argue from there.” [AKA begging the question.]

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457506000571

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