Dave Love has written an excellent review of bicycle helmet safety. Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in the 1-44 year age group and in 2005, cycling accidents claimed 93 lives. However, there is no data on whether these cyclists were wearing a helmet. According to a recent CDC publication on traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US, this is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality with cyclists (non motor vehicle) accounting for 3% of the the 1.4 million cases/year and presumably many more involved in motor vehicle crashes. Again there is no mention in the data about helmet use.
CDC recommends wearing a helmet for the following activities
- Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle;
- Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
- Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;
- Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;
- Riding a horse; or
- Skiing or snowboarding.
and bicycle helmets are the most effective means of reducing bicycle related head injuries. Many cities passed legislation mandating the use of bicycle helmets. Enforced legislation is the most effective method to increase helmet use.