Support BikePortland

New Oregon Trauma System report reveals toll of road injuries

Posted by on June 8th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Cover of report

A new report (PDF) released by the Oregon Health Authority reveals important data about the 18,131 Oregonians who went through the trauma injury system between 2010 and 2011.

The report provides an important analysis of both biking and driving injuries. Of all the injury “mechanisms” tracked in the report, traffic crashes were the leading culprit. (Falls were close behind in total number of injuries and they were the leading cause of deaths.) In addition to the data, the report’s authors have shared a list of recommendations to help lower the rate of traumatic injury in Oregon.

Before I share some of the findings, keep in mind that this data only applies to patients that went through the Oregon Trauma System, a network of 50 hospitals (44 are in Oregon, the others are in Idaho, Washington, and California). This data does not include people who were not transported to the hospital, people who were declared dead at the scene, those who refused care, and those who were treated at a non-trauma hospital. For context, trauma injuries make up roughly half of all hospitalized injuries.

That being said, let’s get into the numbers…

“Among the options to reduce injury, public policy that shapes individual behavior and community norms is proven to have the greatest impact.”
— From the report

Of those 18,131 injuries between 2010 and 2011, 7,750 people were entered into the trauma system due to injuries sustained while operating car/truck/van, a motorcycle, walking, or bicycling. Of those, 6,964 of the injuries involved a car or truck. People in cars suffered the most with 4,971 trauma injuries. Motorcycle operators were next with 889 motor-vehicle related injuries. Walkers suffered 711 trauma injuries due to collisions with motor vehicle operators and there were 313 injuries to people while bicycling. 107 of those injuries to walkers and 679 of the bicycling injuries did not involve a motor vehicle.

Interestingly, people bicycling (which the report calls “pedalcyclists”) were traumatically injured twice as often in collisions not involving motor vehicles (679 versus 313). I wonder how many of those were injuries that occurred during races and other competitions?

The report also revealed that 63% of the adults injured in a bicycle/motor vehicle collision were not wearing a helmet.

516, or just three percent of the 18,131 trauma patients died. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries with 219 deaths between 2010 and 2011. Vehicle and walking related injuries are next with 157 fatalities.

The report also tallied the injury rate per 100,000 people for the various causes of injury. Occupants of motor vehicles were injured at a calculated rate of 129.2 per 100,000 people. Bike riders (who either crashed on their own or collided with another vehicle) were injured at a rate of 24.8 per 100,000 people. Interestingly the rate of trauma patients injured while bicycling is slightly higher than that of people injured while riding a motorcycle (22.6 per 100,000).

The authors of this report listed several recommendations on how Oregon could curb the number of trauma patients. They said they would support, “an effort to mandate the use of bicycle helmets among riders over the age of 16 years.” Another thing they recommend is a new tax on alcohol to reduce the number of injuries from motor vehicle crashes. They also want to get public health officials more involved with planning at the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“Among the options to reduce injury,” the report’s conclusions states, “public policy that shapes individual behavior and community norms is proven to have the greatest impact.”

— You can download the entire report here (PDF).

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

59 Comments
  • Avatar
    peejay June 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Good numbers, lame conclusions. If the goal is to reduce cyling trauma by reducing cycling, by all means go for mandatory helmet use! And when has a liquor tax done anything to stop drunk driving? Liquor taxes punish the responsible drinkers as much as the drunk drivers. TAKE THEIR LICENSES AWAY!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Chris June 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      Playing the devil’s advocate: how do we maintain [DUII] revenue if we take their licences away? It’s a free country…bla bla bla

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Essya June 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    “…63% of the adults injured in a bicycle/motor vehicle collision were not wearing a helmet.”

    GASP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Dave June 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Also… it doesn’t say they suffered head injuries. “63% of cyclists suffered knee injuries while not wearing a helmet!”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Paul June 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Two things that jump out to me are

    1) apparently, given the straight numbers, bicycling is 5x safer than riding in a car; and

    2) over 2/3 of cycling injuries are apparently due to a problem between the handlebars and saddle (let’s call it PBHAS), rather than the infamous bike-car wars. (Yes, I am drawing a conclusion here that requires a logical leap, otherwise known as an induction. Disasgree as you will, but ad-hominem attacks are not justified.)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      BHC June 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Given that the number of bicycles is much less than 1/5 the number of cars, wouldn’t that indicate that bicycling is more dangerous than riding in a car?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    encephalopath June 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    “per 100,000 people”

    Does that mean per 100K users of that mode or per 100K of general population?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    brian June 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Why would they suggest mandating the use of helmets for bicycles when cars are more than 5x more dangerous. They should mandate helmets for car drivers way before bikes!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      q`Tzal June 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Simplististic viewpoint analysis.

      From the non-motorcyclist and non-pedalcyclist outside observer standpoint there are simlar crash patters and losses of control. The main difference between the two travel modes would seem to be Velocity and Mandatory Helmets for Motorcyclists.

      All things being equal physics tells us that the body with the highest impact velocity should be the most injured. Their numbers seem to show a slightly higher injury rate despite the much lower velocity of pedalcyclists. The logical conclusion is that helmets afford motorcyclists better protection for the sort of severe trauma that would have entered them in to this study.

      Absent political considerations, the correct scientific conclusion is that mandatory bicycle helmets would make a difference.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Rol June 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        Yes but, another scientifically valid conclusion is that it would make a difference for automobile operators, who, like cyclists, aren’t currently mandated to wear them. In fact it’s likely to make an even bigger difference given their higher injury rate.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Kevin June 9, 2012 at 1:34 am

          I know you will never “get it” because your point isnt to be logical but to score atta-boys from your your ilk, but ill try anyway: How often does a driver’s head come into contact with the pavement or, as a couple days ago, goes through the back window of an SUV they rear-end? The driver’s greatest danger to their head in a collision is (lacking a seat belt or airbag) impact with the steering wheel, or head and neck separation which a helmet wouldn’t prevent.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

            Actually, just visit Craigslist Portland “rant and rave” where on any number of days you will find idiot’s posting photo’s of decapitated motorist’s and “bike fail” accidents all the time. People die in car wrecks everyday, air bags or not. Your argument directed at Rol is super weak. I am guessing I am one of his ilk, although he may beg to differ.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          q`Tzal June 9, 2012 at 4:19 am

          Perhaps.
          But an analysis is the data collected, in this and other similar studies, will show that severe head trauma is more prevalent in pedalcyclist crashes than in automotive crashes per unit X.
          Further, while helmets worn by auto drivers would decrease head trauma stats the type of helmet required to have the desired effect would likely greatly decrease peripheral vision to the point of increasing the likelyhood of collisions in general.

          More study is indicated.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          q`Tzal June 9, 2012 at 4:22 am

          Also I said “scientific” conclusion; this differs from the “political” conclusion which is something along the lines of:
          “We’re not sticking our hands in that hornets nest again.”

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    andy June 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    How about mandating mandatory helmet use by adults at all times to prevent trauma from falls?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Chris June 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I had an agressive conversation with another student at OSU today when he argued that the sentencing on the teen that killed somebody in Massachusetts, while texting, was too harsh a sentence for somebody so young. This is not an uncommon sentiment from people who don’t like to be accountable for their actions. This may be a bit of a tangent, but I feel this is related to the “community norms” about which this article mentions. Just like the owner of SkiBowl, many people believe that they are entitled to a ‘way out’ from the problems which they create. The dangers posed by driving, or even existing in close proximity to drivers, are an acceptable risk to individuals who do not want to work towards a better future. Self-entitlement is a social norm (“pedalcyclists” included), but I believe that cyclists are generally more independent and accountable, as indicated by their self-reliance and choice to lower their impact (e.g., traffic, healthcare, collisions).

    Until people are willing to accept that they are choosing to be a part of the problem, the cost to our healthcare system will continue to decline. Just look to obesity for an example of how people do not want to accept personal responsibility for the increased cost to everyone.

    And helmets…they’ve saved me from scraping gravel out of my head several times. I am responsible for my choice to ride hard, and helmet hair is not a good enough reason for me to add another burden to the already crowded hospitals. FYI…I wouldn’t choose for a mandatory helmet law, I just know that I fall a lot. Maybe you don’t.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Chris June 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      err…cost cost to our healthcare system will continue to increase!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 7:39 am

      I am not joking when I say this, and I am not exaggerating the facts,….. MY NEXT DOOR neighbor is fighting in court, AS WE SPEAK to retain his driving privilege’s in the state of Oregon,. He is on his FIFTH DUII!!! He has cause countless dollars to the state in legal fees alone, ( besides whatever damage ,or potential damage he could inflict) while I on the other hand who have never visited the hospital once in 43 years of cycling and motorcycling for ANY trauma while pedaling my bicycle sans helmet.. I will vote for a persons right to bicycle sans helmet till the cows come home. These arbitrary statistics and speculation of their interpretation is asinine. And just because you force a human to wear a Snell approved helmet IS NOT going to change their riding habits,awareness, skill, luck, or INTELLIGENCE not to ride within reasonable braking distance of the rear of an SUV, that is in their line RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM! JEEZUS H. KEEERIIIST! Speed by any vehicle (human/combustion) is a major contributor to the outcome of trauma. If I get rear ended by a logging truck, or by a drunk driver on North Williams leaving Pix full of Cognac, a helmet is not going to save me. If you honestly believe healthcare and trauma will decrease with mandatory helmet laws for bicyclist’s, you are nuts! BTW, I am overweight and like to eat bacon before a hard ride to Estacada. If I died of heart failure en route, will my death play a role in the obesity numbers?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 8:05 am

        oh, and BTW… A very good customer of mine in the early 90’s bought a new Kona Explosive, and headed straight for Colorado the next week. I did not see him at the shop for over a year. I assumed he fell in love with Colorado, and was never returning! Come to find out, he spent 7 months in a hospital, in a coma after hitting an ascending hiker on a high speed descent. Helmet on. coma. What’s the point? I do not know. The hiker walked away without a scratch. True story.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    encephalopath June 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    That’s per 100,000 of the general population.
    Recommended 0

    Wouldn’t a mode share analysis tell us more interesting things about about the injury rates?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    FBW June 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I understand the report’s reccommendation for helmet use among cyclists and motorcyclists, but I don’t understand the recommendation for a tax on alcohol.

    Does paying more for alcohol deter people from drinking too much and then driving? Is there scientific evidence out there that an alcohol tax is effective?

    Just curious.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Tom M June 10, 2012 at 11:06 am

      It’s based on a series of studies in Europe where they increased taxes on alcohol and saw a decrease in mortality overall.

      What they don’t tell you is that essentially people ran out of money to buy alcohol and couldn’t get drunk.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Merlin June 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    It would be interesting to compare bike injury stats with Seattle, where there IS a mandatory helmet law. We’ve had several cyclist deaths over the past year and if I recall correctly, the majority of these were wearing helmets. Most of the deaths from crashes (whether bike or car)as well as deaths from falls involve males. Maybe we should just make the guys wear helmets all the time?? (that was a joke by the way)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    9watts June 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I’m curious if the report included reduced speed (limits)? That seems a far more direct(ly relevant) policy recommendation than those listed above.

    I also fail to understand the per 100,000 population statistic. Is that common? What about per million or billion miles traveled by that mode?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kevin Wagoner June 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I’m disappointed that none of the recommendations included reducing speed limits or increasing enforcement. Maybe the study wasn’t focused on the some of the causes of accidents.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Kevin, true voice of reason! yea!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Dave June 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

      That’s the thing that KILLS me about these studies and recommendations – the recommendations are always just putting a band-aid on a flesh wound, they never deal with the SOURCE of the problem, which is an out-of-control transportation system.

      During the filming of the introductory video for the Dutch Cycling Embassy, they had the girl on the bike in the video intentionally pull out into the street right in front of turning cars over and over, and every time, the driver stopped for her. Encouraging THAT kind of awareness (via education, enforcement, and intelligent infrastructure) is how we get to significantly reduced traffic injuries (for everyone using the roads), not by mandating everyone put more protective gear on. That just makes the irresponsible people feel enabled, and everyone else feel liable.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    AdamG June 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    679 out of 313? this can’t be right.

    “…there were 313 injuries to people while bicycling….679 of the bicycling injuries did not involve a motor vehicle.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Opus the Poet June 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      You missed the part where he wrote “Walkers suffered 711 trauma injuries due to collisions with motor vehicle operators and…” There were 313 injured by motor vehicles, and an additional 679 injured otherwise (I’m going to assume from mountain bikes on trails).

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Colin Ross June 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    So it seems likely that the helmet recommendation is due to this statistic shown in the numbers of the report: 63% of trauma system entry cyclists-other had head injuries, 53% of trauma system entries MV-Cyclist had head injuries, 77% of the cyclists killed had head injuries. Compare this to the other transport modes where 37% of motorcyclists had head injuries, 41% of MV-occupants had head injuries, and 51% of falls had head injuries. You can make a similar comparison for fatal accidents where 33% of cyclist-other fatalities had head injuries, 90% of MV-Cyclist fatalities had head injuries, 75% of motorcyclist fatalities had head injuries, 53% of motorvehicle occupant fatalities had head injuries, and 67% of fall fatalities had head injuries. Although many of the fatalities are actually multi-system trauma patients (shown by the clear overlap in fatality numbers between blunt force trauma head, and blunt force trauma abdominal) it is still clear, the majority of cyclists ending up in the trauma system have at least a head injury, if not head plus other system injuries, and nearly every cyclist killed had a head injury. Coupling with the corralation that over half of all cycling trauma system entries had no helmet (though this graph is weird due to its totals that are well below all the cyclists included in the trauma system), mandatory helmets is the obvious suggestion. Now debating how much difference it would have made, or how much overlap there is between the 65% without helmets and the 63% with head injuries is another story, and one not clarified much in this report without more access to the original data. But it is clear when cyclists crash, they hurt their heads, and head injuries can be fatal.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kenji June 9, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Is it major or minor trauma or everything in between? Major is very rare for us. Broken collarbones, stitches and road rash though more common is still fairly rare.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kristi Finney-Dunn June 9, 2012 at 4:18 am

    I realize I come from a different perspective than most other commenters here, but I love that the conclusion reached is that “public policy that shapes individual behavior and community norms is proven to have the greatest impact.” Maybe I like it so much because it’s my fundamental belief. Each individual can do so much to reduce these numbers without even having to wait on anything else. Yes, I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one (I love that song) . Look at Vision Zero and Zero Fatalities …. And as a participant in the Legacy Trauma Nurses Talk Tough program, I can attest that speeding and other personally chosen behaviors are a major focus. These classes are informative and motivating (and Jim especially is incredible). If only everyone had to attend… Dustin didn’t make it to a trauma center. His head separated from his spine at the point of impact (I like to think he was dead before he hit the windshield). And as Kevin noted, no helmet protects from that. But I still urge helmet usage.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Jack June 9, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I find it frustrating that they don’t separate the data for “pedalcyclists” engaged in transportation from those engaged in recreation.

    Obviously I lack the data to reach any certain conclusions (because they didn’t provide it) but it seems a safe bet that no small # of cycling traumas occur during recreational cycling. A vast majority of the cycling injuries I’ve witnessed or heard of took place at races or while mountain biking.

    If the trauma rate for all cycling is ~25/100,000 then the trauma rate for transportation cycling must be at least slightly lower than that. Being able to conclude that cycling as transportation is at least 5x safer than driving is great. But what if, in actuality, it is 10 or 20x safer? That would be great data for advocates.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Ed R June 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

    A note for Kevin and those trying to minimize head injuries to motorists or justify mandated helmets for bicyclists. Motor vehicle use is by far the #1 cause of head injury in the US; more than 80,000 per year. Whether the head hits a steering wheel, pavement or whatever is irrelevant. If we as a society were serious about reducing head injuries, the fastest and easiest way would be to require helmet use for motorists. Period.
    We won’t do this of course, and why? Besides the car industry revolt we’d see (which happened in Australia when it was discussed) we know that it’s because it would shatter the cultural denial. Being in a motor vehicle is the single most dangerous thing you can do in your daily life. No opinion, absolute certainty with this. We must collectively deny this however and pretend it is the normal and sensible thing to do. Hurtling along at 70mph bumper to bumper with strangers talking on phones, applying makeup, drinking and indulging in frustrated and furious behavior. We know that requiring helmet use will accent this, and even stigmatize car use. It might make car use appear dangerous and extreme, discouraging car use. (exactly as happens with cycling thank you) But most of all it would pop our precious fantasy about auto use. So we will not allow that to happen. As a society we have no compunction about making bike use appear dangerous and extreme however. (though in parts of the world where true bike culture flourishes there is very little helmet use, as anyone who has been to Amsterdam or Copenhagen will tell you)

    Of course having helmets kept kept in a car is far easier and more practical than carrying one about when cycling. There really is no excuse. But does anyone seriously think this will happen? But with bikes it’s time to get all serious, scientific and literal. We see the argument made for cycling that if even one life is saved it’s worth it! Nauseating cultural hypocrisy, with the convenient blind spots right where they need to be.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Mike June 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Nice try but see colin’s post above. Why is there such a backlash when anyone suggest cyclists wear helmets? It’s not like a bunch of cyclist hating motorists are sitting around plotting against helmetless cyclists. Practicality or style should always take a back seat when it comes to head injuries. Anyone stubborn enough to argue against cycling with a helmet should consult their local trauma surgeon!!!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        No it is more likely that a bunch of self righteous do-good nincompoop’s that ride bikes will do that for them.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Alex Reed June 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        Mike, I assume you are also in favor of mandatory helmets for drivers and passengers in motor vehicles? 41 percent of motor-vehicle-occupant trauma patients had head injuries. That is a LOT of people who could be helped by mandatory motor-vehicle helmets, far more than would ever be helped by mandatory cycle helmets.

        I hope you already wear a helmet whenever you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. After all, “practicality or style should always take a back seat when it comes to head injuries. Anyone stubborn enough to argue against cycling with a helmet should consult their local trauma surgeon!!!”

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      or China…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

    ..you are speaking of “Kevin” not “Kevin Wagoner”, I assume?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Atbman June 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve probably pointed this out before, but a study of cyclist head injury fatalities some years ago in the UK, by Dr. Mayer Hilman, showed that about 92% of all the riders whose c.o.d was head trauma would have died anyway. Other injuries would have been fatal, but more slowly.

    I’m not against wearing a helmet – do it myself – but the cause is the collision with either a motor vehicle or the surrounding topography, not the specifically failure to wear a helmet.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Colin Ross June 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Probably true, but it seems like that study may be focusing on the wrong group. What about the rest of the people who end up in the trauma system with non-fatal head injuries (a majority of cyclist trauma entries in this study.) It would be interesting to see how many of them were wearing helmets, if there was a correlation between ISS (injury severity score) and helmet use, and attempt community surveys to see how many cyclists were in accidents, and avoided hospital entry due to helmet use. The motorcycle data alone makes it clear, sometimes you crash so hard that a helmet is useless, and most of the motorcycle fatalities had head injuries, so it’s not a perfect system. But the low percentage of motorcycle trauma entries with head injuries suggests that the helmets do alot to prevent injury at low speed, or in common accidents.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Opus the Poet June 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    The link to the .pdf is not working for me and just takes me back to this article.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    meh June 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Just be careful what you ask for.
    Want universal health care?
    Then get ready for the risk mitigation.
    That means you have laws to do things like enforce wearing of seat belts, because they reduce the risk of injury and therefore reduce the cost of healthcare.
    Coming in that same vein will be helmet laws for all. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of injury and reduces the cost of healthcare.
    When all of us are paying for universal healthcare then what comes next it legislation to ensure that no one has personal choice because we all end up paying for the poor decisions of others.
    It’s a slippery slope once you put gov’t in charge of anything.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Yeah, too bad Nixon is dead, and you cant ask him how he and Kaiser established the WONDERFULLY awesome system of health care we have in this fine country! We are ranked what, 37th in benefits received, while being ranked 3rd or something in out of pocket expense? Whatever.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Alex Reed June 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Mike, I assume you are also in favor of mandatory helmets for drivers and passengers in motor vehicles? 41 percent of motor-vehicle-occupant trauma patients had head injuries. That is a LOT of people who could be helped by mandatory motor-vehicle helmets, far more than would ever be helped by mandatory cycle helmets.

    I hope you already wear a helmet whenever you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. After all, “practicality or style should always take a back seat when it comes to head injuries. Anyone stubborn enough to argue against” driving “with a helmet should consult their local trauma surgeon!!!”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Marid June 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Repeating your message again again does not improve your argument.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        oskarbaanks June 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

        It doesn’t ? I just thought my three ex-wives were all hard of hearing! gosh, that explains a lot.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        spare_wheel June 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

        nor does a counterargument without an argument.

        i am fairly pro helmet but i have to admit that if cyclists are legally forced to wear helmets then we should also force motorists to wear helmets. it would be so darn cute too!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Alex Reed June 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        Sorry, clearly either human or comment system malfunction. This was meant to be in a thread up higher.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    q`Tzal June 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    In general, not specifically refering to cyclists of ANY ilk, safety equipment use is a matter of personal choise; a freedom we still have. Fore knowledge, care and diligence are the most effective safety tools we have.

    In a shared cost public health care system the strategy of balancing choise vs monetary losses is simple: mandatory safety equipment laws OR a waiver signed by the individual absolving the public health fund from any costs associated with failure to use a particular piece of safety equipment.

    And being as this America this, as yet hypothetical, comprehensive public health care system would need to be legally written as an OPT IN program where the end user KNOWINGLY trades their freedom for lower costs.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      oskarbaanks June 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Ahhh, but the “opt out program” in your hypothetical conception of a public health plan, still reeks of masked privatization in a legal sense.Only in the U.S.of A., would or does that concept exist hypothetical or actual. There is no evidence that I can find anywhere,that nations that with socialized medicine have an “opt out” such as you have described .( I concede, that perhaps you may know a bit more on this matter ) England considered mandatory helmet laws to only “backpedal” on it because they feared the outcome would be less cyclist’s riding, and with that. would come with a greater negative effect on the health of the nation. France, mandatory? no way. Japan does not even enforce penalties for children who choose to break the helmet laws. Yes, only in America, ” Home of the free, if you are free to pay”.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Evan Manvel June 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

      “a waiver signed by the individual absolving the public health fund from any costs associated with failure to use a particular piece of safety equipment.”

      As long as everyone else signs waivers absolving the public health fund from any costs associated from sitting on their couch and driving everywhere. The ongoing health care costs of physical inactivity are huge (as Oskarbaanks noted).

      We all add costs to the general cost-share through our decisions. Some of us put more in than we get back. Hard to figure out a clear system of fair cost-sharing.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

        Due to political concerns, I doubt it could ever be done, but we could just sic the actuaries on it and see what the ultimate economic realities are. Are you likely to cost society more by being inactive, or by engaging in “risky” activities that improve your overall health? Are there other, unrelated “lifestyle choices” that make you even more expensive than a helmetless cyclist?

        Why not just have everyone wear a bracelet or get a microchip that monitors your activities and adjusts your rates accordingly–just like the car insurance “good driver snapshot spy-thingie” you can plug into your car. Just went for a run? Down go your rates (slide whistle descending note…) Oooooh….cheesecake? Really? (slide whistle ascending note…)

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          q`Tzal June 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

          The mechanics of implementation are irrelevant.

          My point was that was we as a society have surpassed the technological level needed to show that even the smallest actions of an individual can affect the whole.

          This argument quick rises above the skill level of elected politicians to that of philosophers and ethicis.
          Do we curtail the freedoms of the public so that we can keep costs feasible so that we can care for the same public?
          Does our pursuit of freedom require that we deny care to the dying that could have prevented their injury through safety measures but chose not to?

          Even as a hypothetical “dictator for a day” I don’t want to make a decision that is either one of these extremes. I suspect the best solution lies somewhere in between.
          And realistically the only effective solution in America will be to make everyone make that choice for themselves.

          The choice to decide to not have a choice.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Eric in Seattle June 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Anybody out there know the rate of helmet usage in the study area? This would be a necessary piece of info if one wants to infer the benefit of helmet use from the data presented. For example, if 60% of injured riders were not wearing helmets, but only 40% of riders in the general population wore helmets that would indicate that helmets don’t make a difference.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    GlowBoy June 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    “Absent political considerations, the correct scientific conclusion is that mandatory bicycle helmets would make a difference.” -q’Tzal

    I would say the conclusion is that universal use of bicycle helmets would make a difference. Mandating them does not mean everyone will wear them.

    I don’t support laws requiring helmet use by adult bicyclists, nor helmet use by adult motorcyclists, nor seatbelt use by adult automobile inmates. You’re only endangering yourself by deciding not to use these devices, so it’s your decision. (And FWIW I reject the “cost to society” argument, which could too easily be applied to beer and cheezburgers too).

    That said, MY decision (as has been the case for over 30 years) is to wear a helmet. I’ve never whacked my head hard enough to need one (so far), but I’ve been on the planet long enough to observe the effects of cumulative risk.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    q`Tzal June 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    It’s sad; all this arguing and I really mainly wear a helmet so I have a place to mount overkill headlights and dorky looking mirrors and stuff.
    My rampant paranoia protects me 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      El Biciclero June 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

      But doesn’t the addition of lights/cameras to one’s helmet increase the risk of torsional neck injuries in the event of a crash?

      (Don’t answer that, I’m being facetiously rhetorical)

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar