Saturday, July 27 2013 @ 08:38 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
The federal government is withdrawing its long-standing claim that bicycle helmets prevent 85% of head injuries, in response to a petition filed by WABA under the federal Data Quality Act.
In 1989, a study in Seattle estimated that helmets prevent 85% of head injuries. Efforts to replicate those results during the 1990s confirmed that helmets reduce injuries, but not nearly as much as the Seattle study suggested. Yet public health advocates, government web sites, and the news media have continued to repeat the 85% factoid to the point that it has become a mantra.
Bad information can cause problems, even when it is promoted with the best intentions. If people think that helmets stop almost all head injuries, consumers will not demand better helmets, and legislators may think it makes sense to require everyone to wear one. So we asked two federal agencies to correct the misinformation, and they recently agreed to do so.