Assessing helmet safety

Construction helmets, sun-protection helmets, and even plastic buckets are all that stand between many motorcyclists and traumatic head injuries or death in a traffic crash on the streets of Southern China. The World Health Organization has estimated that road collisions are the main cause of death in China for those under the age of 45. With more motorcycles produced in China last year than the population of Australia, the impact of choice of helmet on death and disability is enormous.

Associate Professor Rebecca Ivers and colleagues from The George Institute, China decided to determine the prevalence of motorcycle helmet use in Southern China, including both the quality of helmets used and proper helmet wearing.

“Determining the prevalence of motorcycle helmet use, as well as assessing the quality of the helmets is particularly important in helping to enhance government policy and to complement enforcement practices,” says Professor Ivers.

Data collected in 2009 revealed that less than half of motorcyclists and their passengers wear a safe and properly secured helmet. Reasons for not wearing a standard helmet range from high cost and forged safety stickers, to lack of knowledge and the discomfort of a helmet during humid summers.

To save more lives and prevent head injuries in China, the results of the research will lead to development of strategies such as education campaigns on helmet safety and will encourage government to regulate the production and sale of helmets to ensure they are safe for motorcyclists.