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Bike Helmets and Preventable Injuries

March 3, 2015

While suffering any injury is upsetting, a catastrophic injury that could have been prevented is tragic. This is particularly true for cyclists who suffer traumatic brain injuries that could have been prevented with a certified bike helmet.

Although we often think of vehicle accidents as solely affecting motorists, 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured in Canada each year, with many suffering from moderate to severe brain injuries. When you consider that studies indicate helmets can provide an 88% reduction in the risk of brain injury, the decision to forgo a helmet remains troubling for all British Columbians.

Boy with helmet

Bernie Simpson, C.M. and BC Helmet Legislation

Simpson Thomas & Associates are proud that Bernie Simpson, C.M., a founding partner of Simpson Thomas & Associates, led the effort for a mandatory helmet law in British Columbia in the 1990’s.

During 1990-1995 Bernie Simpson, C.M. was elected as a Member of the Legislature for South-East Vancouver (Fraserview).

During his term in office he led the effort for a mandatory helmet law for both children and adults in British Columbia.

Bernie was a well-established personal injury lawyer when elected and was inspired by a client, a young woman who was well on the way to becoming an outstanding graduate student.

Ironically when the accident happened Jennifer was the president of the students against drunk drivers at a school in Surrey.

As a result of not wearing a bike helmet, as it was not the law at the time, Jennifer suffered a serious, life threatening, severe brain injury which would affect her for the rest of her life.

“Jennifer was an inspiration for all of us who were determined to make it mandatory to wear a bike helmet” stated Simpson.

As a result of a massive citizen’s movement in British Columbia which tirelessly lobbied the Members of the Legislature, in 1995 amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act were made to require all cyclists, children and adults, to wear a safety helmet. This legislation was the most progressive legislation in North America.

At the time the legislation was introduced in British Columbia, an average of six people a year were killed and dozens suffered moderate and severe brain injury and these injuries were costing our health care system over 100 million dollars a year.

In recognition of his efforts, Bernie Simpson was recognized by the American Brain Injury Association at a dinner in his honour in Washington, DC in 1996.

Ride by Example

The heartbreaking story of Jennifer and hundreds of other young people raises another issue in the bike helmet conversation, what is the best way to get kids to wear helmets?

Although it might sound simplistic, one of the best ways you can do this is for parents to wear helmets themselves. Sadly, it is commonplace to see a young family riding together on Vancouver’s seawall with a line of children wearing helmets being led by parents without helmets.

By not wearing a helmet as an adult you are sending a very clear message – that helmets are for kids. As a result when you see the same children reaching adolescence, they see the helmets as optional. In fact they are not; they are no different than seatbelts.

Please wear your bike helmet; it is the law of the Province of British Columbia.

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