Mandatory bicycle helmet use: experience in Victoria, Australia

World J Surg. 1992 May-Jun;16(3):389-97. doi: 10.1007/BF02104437.


On July 1, 1990, the legislation requiring wearing of an approved bicycle (safety) helmet by all pedal cyclists, unless exempted, came into effect in Victoria, Australia. The paper describes the more important activities which paved the way for this initiative and presents some preliminary information about the effect of the legislation on wearing rates and head injuries. Since 1980 there has been promotion of helmet use through bicycle education in schools, mass media publicity, support by professional organizations and community groups, bulk purchase schemes, and government rebates for helmet purchases. The Australian Standard for bicycle safety helmets has also been changed to meet community demands for lighter helmets with more provision for ventilation. There has been a steady increase in voluntary helmet use in Melbourne from 1983 to March 1990, as follows: 5% to 70% in primary school children; 2% to 20% in secondary students; and 27% to 40% in adults. In the period after the legislation, with relatively little enforcement, these three groups have shown substantial increases in helmet use rates, rising to 70-90% in most cases. Preliminary data show that the numbers of bicyclists with a head injury have dropped in the period since the legislation came into effect. The possible contributions to this reduction, of less bicycle use and lower risk of head injury in an accident, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Bicycling / injuries
  • Bicycling / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Head Protective Devices* / standards
  • Humans