winter 2013

h e a l t h   p r o m o t i o n
Action on bike helmet legislation needed in time for 2014 season


CPS Photo

 

 

All provinces and territories must legislate bicycle helmet use for all ages, says the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) in its new position paper titled Bicycle helmet use in Canada: The need for legislation to reduce the risk of head injury.

All provinces and territories must legislate bicycle helmet use for all ages, says the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) in its new position paper titled Bicycle helmet use in Canada: The need for legislation to reduce the risk of head injury. According to the position paper released in November, only 4 of 13 Canadian provinces and territories meet the CPS recommendations – Newfoundland and Labrador is not among them.

“Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries significantly, and studies show that legislation increases the use of helmets,” said co-author Dr. Brent Hagel. “We’re calling on all provinces and territories to enact legislation before the start of the 2014 bike season.”

Bicycling is the leading cause of sport and recreational injury in children and adolescents accounting for 4 per cent of all injuries seen in emergency departments and 7 per cent of all hospital admissions for unintentional injury.

The only provinces that meet CPS recommendations for all-ages bike helmet legislation are British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI. Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba each have bike helmet legislation that applies only to children. Saskatchewan, Quebec, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador have no legislation at all.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has repeatedly lobbied the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2006 to amend the provincial Highway Traffic Act to make helmet use mandatory for all cyclists and users of other wheeled activities.

In 2010, the NLMA commissioned Corporate Research Associates to poll a statistically relevant sample of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to determine their level of support for helmet legislation. The survey found that 87% of respondents would support mandatory helmet legislation for all cyclists in the province (12% were opposed).

In February 2013, the provincial government advised the NLMA that it had no plans to introduce provincial helmet legislation. It was noted in an official letter from Service NL that the province is currently supporting a number of education and injury prevention programs through various departments, including promoting the use of bicycle helmets through substantial annual funding to the Safety Services Newfoundland and Labrador “Lids for Kids” program. The letter noted that the Department of Health and Community Services also promotes education on injury prevention through the Provincial Wellness Plan.

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