Can not wearing a cyling helmet cause death?



S

spindrift

Guest
http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=743&ArticleID=1499298

Grieving family hurl abuse at inquest
THE FAMILY of a Bulwell grandad, who died after falling from his bike
in a road accident, shouted "rot in hell" to the driver in a stormy end
to the inquest this week.

Angry family members hurled abuse at Angela Holden, of Hucknall, who
was driving her black Peugeot 206 when it collided with Brian Ross's
bicycle on Thursday September 15 last year.
Mr Ross (65) was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham
where he was kept in intensive care but died a day later.
Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge said the cause of death was
a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not wearing a helmet.
The inquest heard that Mr Ross, a keen cyclist, left his home on Sankey
Drive at about 8 am to buy a paper from a local shop. It was a route he
took every day.
Neighbour Lynn Widnall, also of Sankey Drive, said she was walking her
son to school when they came to the junction with Hambling Close and
had to stop for a car.
She said Mr Ross appeared to her right on his bike and she told the
inquest: "He put his hand up to say stop to the car and the car didn't
stop at the junction. It carried straight on around the corner and
collided with him."
She said Mr Ross was knocked into the air but the car wasn't travelling
very fast. She told her son to run home and call an ambulance.
Daniel Morgan, also of Sankey Drive, said he was looking out of a
bedroom window when he saw Mr Ross cycling on the wrong side of the
road before moving to the correct side near the Hambling Close
junction.
Both witnesses said it was drizzling with rain but visibility was good.
Mrs Holden, of Papplewick Lane, told the inquest she was on her way to
work and stopped at the junction before looking both ways.
She said she didn't see anything but as she began to move the car
forward she suddenly spotted Mr Ross.
She recalled: "In a fraction of a second, we made eye-contact and a
split second later, he was in front of the car and that's when I
stopped. It all happened so quickly."
She said she got out of the car and Mr Ross was conscious. He didn't
speak and she held his hand.
She said her driving visibility was not impaired and she had her
windscreen wipers on.
Pc Terence Poyser told the inquest there were no marks or scratches on
the car, which indicated it was a slow collision. He said the bike's
rear wheel was slightly buckled and had sustained a few scratches.
He said scratches on the road indicated Mr Ross was on the correct side
of the road at the time of the accident but could have come from a
direction that the driver would not have expected.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Gotheridge said: "This
illustrates the dangers that can occur if people cycle without wearing
a helmet.
"The evidence shows that even in a low-speed collision, if someone
falls from a bike and bangs their head, the consequences can be fatal."
Mr Ross had just retired from his job of 15 years as an assistant
caretaker at Nottingham High School for Boys.
He left his wife Mary, three children Duncan, Micheal and Claire and
three grandchildren Scott, Adam and Kayleigh.


Nottingham City Coroners Office.
50 Carrington Street, Nottingham, NG1 7FG
Tel: 0115 941 2322


Email: [email protected]


Dear Mr Gotheridge.


I read your remarks relating to the death of Mr Ross with disbelief.

May I ask if your remarks were quoted accurately in this piece?

http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=743&ArticleID=1499298

"Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge said the cause of death was
a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not wearing a helmet."


This is an outrageous remrk, how on earth can you blame Mr Ross for a
car not seeing him and running him over? If your remarks were
faithfully recorded than you have effectively given carte blanche for
careless motorists to kill cyclists. If your remarks were as reported
then you have both shifted blame AND mitigated the terms of any future
civil settlement by stating that the injuries were caused by the lack
of a helmet, a truly bizarre remark.

The man died because some idiot either failed to see him due to
inadequate observations, decioded to chance it and misjudged the
situation, or simply decided her time was more important, and pulled
out any way.


There is nothing in those witness statements, Police statement or
anywhere else inb the report to attribute blame to this cyclist, unless
you simply count being on the road as being culpable in any RTA.

Could you please clarify whether your remarks were reported accurately?

Best regards

Spindrift
 
"spindrift" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=743&ArticleID=1499298
>

<snip>
> Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge said the cause of death was
> a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not wearing a helmet.
> The inquest heard that Mr Ross, a keen cyclist, left his home on Sankey
> Drive at about 8 am to buy a paper from a local shop. It was a route he
> took every day.
> Neighbour Lynn Widnall, also of Sankey Drive, said she was walking her
> son to school when they came to the junction with Hambling Close and
> had to stop for a car.
> She said Mr Ross appeared to her right on his bike and she told the
> inquest: "He put his hand up to say stop to the car and the car didn't
> stop at the junction. It carried straight on around the corner and
> collided with him."
> She said Mr Ross was knocked into the air but the car wasn't travelling
> very fast. She told her son to run home and call an ambulance.
> Daniel Morgan, also of Sankey Drive, said he was looking out of a
> bedroom window when he saw Mr Ross cycling on the wrong side of the
> road before moving to the correct side near the Hambling Close
> junction.


Well, firstly, here's the junction .. http://tinyurl.com/oulde

I cannot see the road lines, but I presume he had full right of way and that
this is a residential housing area.

There is a report that he was on the wrong side of the road, and that he
corrected this. This could be because he spotted the car. Another report
says that he raised his left hand to signal the car to stop.

Most accidents happen within a mile of the home, and in retrospect it may
have been a wise decision to have hit the brakes and not tried to "use the
force" to stop a car. Local housing estates are worse than main roads as car
drivers have only just set off, and are "still fiddling".

If he was on the wrong side of the road, this may not have registered to the
car driver as a normal place to be, therefore creating a confusing
situation.

Personally I would *guess* that the cyclist not using his brakes and being
slightly more defensive helped cause the situation. I have come across many
unaware drivers in my time, but have only gone over one bonnet in 10 years.
The end result though is that the car driver crossed a give way junction,
colliding with the cyclist and this would be the main cause of his death.

I would like the coroner to actually prove that not wearing a helmet was the
'cause' if making statements such as these.
 
spindrift wrote:

>
> This is an outrageous remrk, how on earth can you blame Mr Ross for a
> car not seeing him and running him over?


Trying to be impartial:

Nobody was blaming Mr Ross. The evidence casts doubt on wether Mr Ross
had been negotiating the junction correctly, so the blame cannot be
placed entirely on the driver. The accident also appeared, from all
evidence, to occur at very low speed.

This is the sort of accident that happens every day between vehicles.
With cars you might have broken a headlamp. This man died of a head
injury.

It should be possible to minimise the risk of death in such a minor
accident by wearing a helmet. If the helmets are not adequate, then
they should be improved.

Whilst obligatory helmet wearing is a debatable issue, the judge noting
that wearing a helmet could have saved his life was quite correct.
 
Roger wrote:

> Nobody was blaming Mr Ross.


The cause of death was, so we're told, Mr. Ross not wearing a helmet.
His decision not to wear it, so his "fault" is the inference.

> It should be possible to minimise the risk of death in such a minor
> accident by wearing a helmet. If the helmets are not adequate, then
> they should be improved.


But if they are improved by creating a specification such that they can
be expected to usefully mitigate serious injuries then they will be
heavier and less comfortable, which will affect the cyclist.

> Whilst obligatory helmet wearing is a debatable issue, the judge noting
> that wearing a helmet could have saved his life was quite correct.


As he would have been pointing out that a rabbit's foot or a St.
Christopher /might/ have saved him. Helmets have no clearly proven
track record of saving lives.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
Roger wrote:
the judge noting
that wearing a helmet could have saved his life was quite correct.


That's not what was said.


The coroner implied blame on Mr Ross because a driver didn't notice a
cylist in broad daylight.

Put it this way:


Driver swerves to avoid a cyclist running a red light and smashes into
pedestrians on the pavement.

The coroner states" This just goes to show why railings are so
important, the pedestrian deaths were caused by there being no
railings"


Fair?

Of course not, no wonder the Ross family were so upset.
 
elyob wrote:

>
> I would like the coroner to actually prove that not wearing a helmet was the
> 'cause' if making statements such as these.


The coroner defined the incedent as an accident, probably because there
is evidence that the cyclist had not approached the junction correctly
and this may be why the car driver failed to see him.

The coroner then added:

"The evidence shows that even in a low-speed collision, if someone
falls from a bike and bangs their head, the consequences can be fatal."


He is quite correct there. The evidence clearly showed that this was a
low speed collision (independent of whose fault), and yet it is
possible to recieve a fatal blow to the head.

Wether this is a just case for obligatory helmets is a different issue.
Many people die from blows to the head after falling down
stairs.....should we wear helmets as we go about the house?
 
On 16 May 2006 02:38:02 -0700, Roger <[email protected]> wrote:
> spindrift wrote:
>>
>> This is an outrageous remrk, how on earth can you blame Mr Ross for a
>> car not seeing him and running him over?

>
> Trying to be impartial:
>
> Nobody was blaming Mr Ross. The evidence casts doubt on wether Mr Ross
> had been negotiating the junction correctly, so the blame cannot be
> placed entirely on the driver. The accident also appeared, from all
> evidence, to occur at very low speed.
>
> This is the sort of accident that happens every day between vehicles.
> With cars you might have broken a headlamp. This man died of a head
> injury.
>
> It should be possible to minimise the risk of death in such a minor
> accident by wearing a helmet. If the helmets are not adequate, then
> they should be improved.


How? Any improvements to the how a helmet protects from injury, will
probably increase weight and also be more insulating. Some of us
need every help we can get with heat dissipation and wearing anything
on the head (esp. polystyrene) hinders rather than helps.

> Whilst obligatory helmet wearing is a debatable issue, the judge noting
> that wearing a helmet could have saved his life was quite correct.


It was a coroner not a judge they are different beasts.

Anyway I disagree or rather I don't. "Could have" is such a nebulous
catch-all. Whether it would have or not is a different matter. The
probability is obviously non-zero but no-one can say for sure what it
really is. Some people die from very minor knocks to the skull. This
one happened when the guy was on a bike. The coroner should limit himself
to a finding of fact and not speculate. After all we do not hear coroners
saying a helmet could have saved him when people die falling down in the
street, or down a flight of stairs, and banging their heads.

--
Andy Leighton => [email protected]
"The Lord is my shepherd, but we still lost the sheep dog trials"
- Robert Rankin, _They Came And Ate Us_
 
Peter Clinch wrote:
> Roger wrote:
>
> > Nobody was blaming Mr Ross.

>
> The cause of death was, so we're told, Mr. Ross not wearing a helmet.
> His decision not to wear it, so his "fault" is the inference.


Your inference, your implication. The coroner cannot uniquivicolly
blame the driver as the cause of the accident as there is evidence that
the cyclist may have been in part to blame. It would be very incorrect
of him to implicate the driver superficially, as that would make the
driver implicated in a manslaughter charge.

He did not blame the cyclist for not wearing the helmet, he noted the
potential relevance. It is normal in a coroners court to note things
that could have avoided the death, independent of wether anybody is to
blame or who is to blame.

I think the coroner expressed himself badly, I do not think he was
trying to pin all the blame on the incident on the cyclist. Perhaps he
should have said "Independent of the cause of the accident, the
incedent shows how even in a low speed accident a cyclist may recieve a
fatal blow to the head....."

Remember that this was not a criminal trial but a coroners court, whose
role is not only to establish the circumstances and cause of death but
to identify all factors such that steps may cosidered to reduce the
risk of future deaths.
 
Andy Leighton wrote:

>
> How? Any improvements to the how a helmet protects from injury, will
> probably increase weight and also be more insulating. Some of us
> need every help we can get with heat dissipation and wearing anything
> on the head (esp. polystyrene) hinders rather than helps.


OT, but I cycle with a helmet in Italy. I can recommend the trick of a
thin cotton skullcap or bandanna under the helmet, you splash a bit of
water on it every now and again and it keeps wonderfully cool.

> It was a coroner not a judge they are different beasts.


Yes, quite true. In fact if it had been a criminal court judge with the
driver on trial the judge would have been completely out of order. But
a coroner must note all factors in the death of a person even when they
are normal everyday occurances.

> really is. Some people die from very minor knocks to the skull. This
> one happened when the guy was on a bike. The coroner should limit himself
> to a finding of fact and not speculate. After all we do not hear coroners


No, people recieve fatal knocks to the skull from many causes, and
coroners do make comments with the scope of trying to avoid future
occurances The problem in this case is that he did not construct his
comments well, plus the fact that many people seem to regard the
coroners court as a criminal trial.

The judge is not speculating. Standards exist for cycling helmets which
are supposed to be designed to reduce the risk of fatal injuries such
as this. It is not for the coroner (on the basis of the evidence in
this trial) to speculate on the potential for the helmet to reduce the
risk, theoretically the helmet device exists.

Had the cyclist been wearing a helmet and had nonetheless died of a
blow to the head, the coroner may have said "The evidence shows that
cycling helemets may be inadequate to protect riders even in a minor
incident".

BTW, my 2 cents on cycle helmets:

I think they significally reduce risks to the rider, but the rider
should be free to choose wether to take the risk or not. They should be
(and usually are) obligatory in competition.
 
Roger wrote:
> Peter Clinch wrote:
>> Roger wrote:
>>
>>> Nobody was blaming Mr Ross.

>> The cause of death was, so we're told, Mr. Ross not wearing a helmet.
>> His decision not to wear it, so his "fault" is the inference.

>
> Your inference, your implication.


"Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge said the cause of death was
a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not wearing a helmet" leaves no
doubt that the "cause" was "not wearing a helmet". Who was responsible
for Mr. Ross not wearing a helmet aside from Mr. Ross?

> The coroner cannot uniquivicolly
> blame the driver as the cause of the accident as there is evidence that
> the cyclist may have been in part to blame. It would be very incorrect
> of him to implicate the driver superficially, as that would make the
> driver implicated in a manslaughter charge.


I quite agree that blaming the driver 100% given the evidence would be
wrong, but that wasn't the point. The point is that blaming the absence
of a cycle helmet for the death is a rather bold and unrequired leap
into the unknown.

> He did not blame the cyclist for not wearing the helmet, he noted the
> potential relevance.


But he didn'tr say it was *potentially* relevant, he said explicitly it
*was* the cause. Noty the same thing at all!

> I think the coroner expressed himself badly, I do not think he was
> trying to pin all the blame on the incident on the cyclist.


Nor do , but the fact of the matter is he /did/ pin all the blame on the
cyclist not wearing a helmet.

> Perhaps he
> should have said "Independent of the cause of the accident, the
> incedent shows how even in a low speed accident a cyclist may recieve a
> fatal blow to the head....."


And that would be accurate. But saying the cause emphatically *was* the
failure to wear a lid is bad form.

> Remember that this was not a criminal trial but a coroners court, whose
> role is not only to establish the circumstances and cause of death but
> to identify all factors such that steps may cosidered to reduce the
> risk of future deaths.


And the record for helmets saving lives is where, exactly? Many people
assume that the 85% effectiveness that is often broadcast at us has a
ring of truth behind it. Few are aware that there is no link between
increased helmet wearing and no improvement in serious and fatal head
injuries. So they make rather questionable conclusions about how useful
helmets have been or may be.

Guy Chapman had an interesting anecdote regarding two falls by
pensioners in his neck of the woods. Both over the bars, both hit their
heads, one died, the other didn't. As it happened the one that died had
a helmet on and the survivor had a cotton cap. Can you see the
possibility, had they been the other way around, that the survivor would
be proclaimed to have had his life saved by his helmet? Can you see the
possibility of the media or even a coroner suggesting that the dead
man's lack of a helmet was to blame for his demise? I certainly can,
because we see these assumptions all the time, but in this case it
didn't work that way.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
1/

Cycling with a helmet is not a legal requirement. Driving with care and
attention is. This driver ignored a cyclist and killed him and the
coroner implies the blame lies with the cyclist


2/

The police stated that the cyclist was on the right side of the road
when the driver drove her car into him.

3/

Even if he was on the wrong side of the road, or sitting in the
middle of it eating his breakfast. He still has right of way as a
pedestrian - if a pedestrian is defined as a human being, that is.
 
Roger wrote:

> I think they significally reduce risks to the rider


I used to think that too, until I started reading the research. If
"risks" include minor injuries, fair enough, but for life threatening
ones they simply don't have a track record that suggests they do
anything much at all.

> They should be (and usually are) obligatory in competition.


Why should they be? Were all forms of cycle racing known to produce
particular carnage to participants' heads before helmets were made
compulsory? Have deaths ceased since that changed?

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 
Given that so many coroners seem preoccupied with non-mandatory cycle
'safety' equipment, has anyone ever seen a coroners report where a car
driver has been killed though the fault of another driver, and the
coroner on learning that the driver was in a car with a low ENCAP
rating, or one which was not fitted with airbags said something like;
'This case illustrates the dangers of driving in anything other than an
ENCAP 5 star rated vehicle fitted with all-round airbags'? I bet
not...
 
[email protected] wrote:
> Given that so many coroners seem preoccupied with non-mandatory cycle
> 'safety' equipment, has anyone ever seen a coroners report where a car
> driver has been killed though the fault of another driver, and the
> coroner on learning that the driver was in a car with a low ENCAP
> rating, or one which was not fitted with airbags said something like;
> 'This case illustrates the dangers of driving in anything other than an
> ENCAP 5 star rated vehicle fitted with all-round airbags'? I bet
> not...


Errm, more like:

The landrover plowed into the mini at 80mph and killed all the
occupants. This was caused by the occupants of the mini using a car
that is too small.

Tim.
 
Roger wrote:
>
> Whilst obligatory helmet wearing is a debatable issue, the judge noting
> that wearing a helmet could have saved his life was quite correct.
>


Although he is totally inconsistent in not noting that wearing a helmet
could have saved Mr Houldsworth's life in this inquest
http://www.hucknalltoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=743&ArticleID=1287142

--
Tony

"The best way I know of to win an argument is to start by being in the
right."
- Lord Hailsham
 
Roger wrote:

> Nobody was blaming Mr Ross. The evidence casts doubt on wether Mr Ross
> had been negotiating the junction correctly, so the blame cannot be
> placed entirely on the driver. The accident also appeared, from all
> evidence, to occur at very low speed.
>
> This is the sort of accident that happens every day between vehicles.
> With cars you might have broken a headlamp. This man died of a head
> injury.


According to the report "Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge
said the cause of death was a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not
wearing a helmet."

Clearly the lack of a helmet did not cause the injury. The injury was
caused by the crash. Whether a helmet could have mitigated the injury
is another matter. If the coroner is really saying the cause of the
injury was not wearing a helmet, then he is certainly placing the blame
for the injury on the victim. If someone you knew were to be killed in
the street by a gunman would you expect the coroner to say the cause of
his death was a severe gun-shot wound caused by his not wearing a
bullet-proof vest?

I strongly suspect though that this wording is a muddle-headed
reporter's interpretation rather than the coroner's actual words.

--
Dave...
 
spindrift said the following on 16/05/2006 09:24:

> Assistant deputy coroner Martin Gotheridge said the cause of death was
> a severe head-injury caused by Mr Ross not wearing a helmet.


Surely the cause of death was severe head injury caused by being hit by
a car! A helmet may or may not have saved his life, but if he hadn't
been hit in the first place, he wouldn't have died.

Generally, H&S rules state that the person causing the risk should
ensure that those at risk should be protected. It seems that where cars
and bikes are concerned, the legal profesion seems to take the opposite
view.

--
Paul Boyd
http://www.paul-boyd.co.uk/
 
On 16 May 2006 03:26:53 -0700, Roger <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> Andy Leighton wrote:
>
>>
>> How? Any improvements to the how a helmet protects from injury, will
>> probably increase weight and also be more insulating. Some of us
>> need every help we can get with heat dissipation and wearing anything
>> on the head (esp. polystyrene) hinders rather than helps.

>
> OT, but I cycle with a helmet in Italy. I can recommend the trick of a
> thin cotton skullcap or bandanna under the helmet, you splash a bit of
> water on it every now and again and it keeps wonderfully cool.


This is a far more interesting point to carry on talking about. Obviously
how hot people get, and how well they deal with that heat differs. Same
with cold. I'm one of those people who doesn't deal with heat very well
at all but am OK in the cold. Even in English summers I suffer.

--
Andy Leighton => [email protected]
"The Lord is my shepherd, but we still lost the sheep dog trials"
- Robert Rankin, _They Came And Ate Us_
 
Andy Leighton wrote:
> I'm one of those people who doesn't deal with heat very well
> at all but am OK in the cold. Even in English summers I suffer.


Move to Scotland then ;-)

...d
 
Andy Leighton wrote:
> On 16 May 2006 03:26:53 -0700, Roger <[email protected]> wrote:
>>
>> OT, but I cycle with a helmet in Italy. I can recommend the trick of a
>> thin cotton skullcap or bandanna under the helmet, you splash a bit of
>> water on it every now and again and it keeps wonderfully cool.

>
> This is a far more interesting point to carry on talking about. Obviously
> how hot people get, and how well they deal with that heat differs. Same
> with cold. I'm one of those people who doesn't deal with heat very well
> at all but am OK in the cold. Even in English summers I suffer.


Roger has a good system, but if would actually work rather better if he
took off the helmet as well as dampening the hat.

Pros used to wear cotton cycling caps as their headgear of choice. I
use one too, and find it's quite the best thing to be in on a hot day.

Pete.
--
Peter Clinch Medical Physics IT Officer
Tel 44 1382 660111 ext. 33637 Univ. of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital
Fax 44 1382 640177 Dundee DD1 9SY Scotland UK
net [email protected] http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/
 

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