DfT helmets - wrong again

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Richard Burton, Jun 5, 2003.

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  1. The following is cut directly from the CTC press release, so apologies to them, but I think this
    deserves as wide an audience as possible. The DfT can't even get their own figures correct: still,
    they are only a margin of 100% out, quite close for them really.



    CTC - the UK's national cycling organisation

    5th June 2003

    Factual inaccuracies increase scare factor in new government helmet campaign.

    CTC, the national cyclists' organisation, claims that the Government is using dubious statistics in
    its newly-launched "teenage cycle safety" campaign, which greatly exaggerate the hazards involved in
    cycling. This finding adds to the concerns of cycling organisations that the Government is more
    interested in creating an impression of cycling as a "dangerous" activity, than promoting it for its
    health and other benefits (see CTC press release of 27th May 2003 -
    www.ctc.org.uk/about/pressArchive.aspx )

    On a website aimed at young teenage cyclists, the Department for Transport claims that "nearly 3000
    cyclists between the ages of 12-16 were killed or seriously injured on the roads during 2001". The
    website has already attracted controversy for linking cycling with images of skull x-rays,
    suggesting hospitalisation and death, when the Government itself has objectives to promote cycling
    for its health and other benefits.

    CTC believes that the real figure for the year, based on government's figures for 2001, is less than
    half the claimed total for deaths and serious injuries. Full details of all figures and their
    sources are listed in the notes below.

    The website goes on to claim that "nearly 50% of injuries suffered by cyclists are to the head
    and face."

    The research literature includes a wide variety of statistics. Many of these are not directly
    comparable because they use different definitions about what injury types are included in the
    statistic. However, statistics which include injuries to parts of the body not protected by a helmet
    are clearly not relevant to any discussion of their effectiveness. Estimates for head-only injuries
    mainly lie in the range 20-34%.

    Another point of dispute relates to the site's "Quick Quiz" section. In response to the question,
    "When do most cycling accidents occur?", the answer given on the website is "When cyclists are
    turning across traffic <http://www.cyclesense.net/training/04.htm> ." In fact, surveys show that the
    overwhelming majority of collisions occur in situations where the cyclist is going straight ahead.

    Estimates in different surveys put this in the 72-78% range, whereas just 12% of collisions involved
    cyclists who were making turning movements.

    Campaigns Co-ordinator Roger Geffen is clear about what CTC feel the government is trying to achieve
    with the 'skulls' helmet promotion campaign:

    "These inflated figures and misleading statements make it clear that road safety officials want
    people to view cycling is a "dangerous" pastime. Yet this Government is supposed to be promoting
    cycling as a healthy and enjoyable option for transport and leisure, to be encouraged for its
    health, social and environmental benefits. There is a serious lack of joined up thinking here."

    Three "skull x-rays and helmets" images will appear in several teen orientated lifestyle and leisure
    magazines from June onwards. They are also available on a Government website - www.cyclesense.net
    <http://www.cyclesense.net> - and on A4 posters being distributed to schools.

    A fully referenced paper and a one-page summary briefing are available on the CTC website -
    www.ctc.org.uk <http://www.ctc.org.uk> - setting out why CTC believes helmet promotion campaigns are
    counter-productive to any strategy to promote increased cycle use and improved cycle safety, in
    accordance with Government policy.


    For more information contact:

    David Harmon (CTC acting Media Officer) - 07884 002786 Roger Geffen (CTC Campaigns & Policy Manager)
    - 07775 595998

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