In 1992 Australia become the first country to make all cyclists wear a helmet by law and shortly afterwards this also became compulsory in New Zealand. There is much debate across the cycling community as to whether a compulsory requirement to wear a cycle helmet is as effective as hoped in reducing serious injury or whether it just discourages people from taking part in the activity. The debate will undoubtedly continue, with valid arguments being put forward from both sides. Nevertheless, whether compulsory by law or not, if you are cycling on the road then wearing a protective helmet would seem to be common sense.
Worryingly, latest reports now indicate that there is a rapid increase in counterfeit cycle helmets appearing on the market, creating a growing industry where fake manufacturers are trying to make money out of the success of cycling. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents stated that in 2014, 21,287 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents in the UK, including 3,514 who were killed or seriously injured. The Department of Transport recently claimed that compulsory helmets could have prevented up to 16% of the fatalities and there is mounting concern that many cyclists are purchasing cycle helmets thinking they have protection, when they do not.
The reason for the sudden rise in the purchase of counterfeit products is unclear but it may simply reflect consumer desire to seek savings in retail prices. With online retail sales on the increase, people are often looking for recognisable brand names online without visually inspecting the product and making a presumption on quality and safety.
A European standard for helmets does exist and it is known as EN 1078. EN 1078 specifies the requirements and test methods for bicycle helmets, skateboard and roller skate helmets. It covers helmet construction including field of vision, shock absorbing properties, and retention system properties, such as chin strap and fastening devices, as well as marking and information. Often counterfeit products will not come close to these standards and in practice would result in catastrophic injury for the wearer.
Charlene McAuliffe, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team, said: “Head injuries are a devastating consequence of road traffic accidents and a leading cause of fatalities. Helmets do save lives and the prospect of someone being prepared to put lives at risk for the sake of profit is horrifying.We can only hope that by raising awareness of this issue, cyclists will ensure that they do all they can to protect themselves. We encourage them to inspect any item of protective clothing or equipment fully to confirm that it is fit for purpose and, if there is any doubt, to seek advice from a reputable supplier, retailer or manufacturer.”