MP aims to make cycle helmets compulsory for childrenShareThis
Though not as controversial as a wide ranging helmet compulsion law covering adults, Annette Brooke, Lib Dem MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, yesterday presented a Private Members Bill to Parliament that seeks to make it compulsory for those under 14 to wear cycle helmets.
Her Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill would make it mandatory for children under 14 to wear cycle helmets when cycling on roads and in open spaces.
Duty to protect children
Ms Brooke said she was backing the law as it would protect children from head injuries. According to her figures, 5,717 children were admitted to hospital last year due to accidents whilst cycling.
On her website Annette said: “We have a duty to protect our children, and the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill will do just that. Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families. Children are at a higher risk because not only are their brains not fully developed but they are less experienced at cycling and on the roads in general.”
“We owe it to children to protect them in the years before they are old enough to make their own minds up. More children wearing helmets will mean a reduction in child deaths and serious brain injury. Through this Bill I hope we can make cycling even safer, and encourage children to get out on their bikes.”
The proposed law will not criminalise those children cycling without helmets. Instead there would be a duty on parents to buy a helmet for their child if the child was caught cycling without a helmet. If parents did not show proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days they would be then fined.
The bill has the support of the BMA, brain injury charity Headway, Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, Child Brain Injury Trust, road safety charity BRAKE, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust, who all deal directly with the effects of brain injury.
Northern Ireland Bill
Earlier this year, a Parliamentary Bill to compel adults to wear cycle helmets in Northern Ireland eventually ran out of time to become law due to Assembly elections in Northern Ireland in May. It had passed the second stage of the parliamentary process there.
The Bill, which was sponsored in a private capacity by SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, proposed to penalise cyclists £50 for failing to wear a helmet. Parents, or those with responsibility for children, would have been fined for contraventions committed by the children they were responsible for.