New compulsory helmet law to prevent child injury
Politicians in the island of Jersey have passed a proposal to make cycle helmets compulsory for under 18’s. A further vote narrowly rejected a law that would have made it illegal for anyone on the island to cycle without a helmet.
The island of Jersey has recently passed a law that makes it compulsory for all citizens, including children, to wear cycle helmets. After months of heated debate, which saw lobbyists on both sides making passionate please for their cases, the motion was successfully passed. Those in favour of compulsory helmets felt that the law would save children’s lives and prevent possible child injury. In the opposite camp, people argued that forced headgear was an infringement of civil liberty, that would criminalise children and increase the ASBO culture.
Forced Helmets: Common Sense or Nanny State?
Ministerial Deputy Andrew Green spoke in favour of the proposal, saying he was a supporter of protective headgear after his Son “had a massive brain injury as a result of a minor head injury” when he was nine. In an emotional plea, Deputy Green said that he realised nothing could turn back time and undo the damage to his son, “but we can help to reduce the risks for others, and avoid years of emotional and financial costs for individuals and their families.”
The arguments against the proposal were just as passionate. People against making cycle helmets compulsory argued that the evidence base behind cycle helmets was ‘weak’ – and some studies had shown that cycle helmets increased child injuries. They felt to make it a criminal offence to cycle without a helmet was taking away people’s freedom. Deputy Sean Power, an opponent of the proposal, said: “I wear a helmet 99% of the time, but I don’t want to be forced to wear a helmet 100% of the time.”
The end result was remarkably close – the proposal to make all Jersey residents wear helmets was rejected by only one vote. The second proposal – making cycle helmets compulsory for all under 18’s on the island- was passed more comfortably – with 32 votes in favour and only 16 against.
Could the Law Reduce the Risk of Child Injury?
Now all children in Jersey must wear a cycle helmet in public places, or could find themselves in serious trouble with the law. The result has led many people in mainland UK to ask if the same law could be passed here.
Charities like Headway, the brain injury organisation, are supportive of the new law. Now many road safety organisations are pushing for the proposal to be adopted throughout the UK to help reduce the risk of child injury.