By Jenni Mitchell, Solicitor, Neil Hudgell Solicitors
New legislation has been introduced in Jersey making it compulsory for children under the age of 14 to wear a helmet when cycling, in an effort to reduce the number of head injuries sustained in cycle accidents each year.
The first law of its kind to be passed in any jurisdiction in the British Isles, the new legislation was first proposed by Deputy Andrew Green MBE, Minister for Housing, in 2010.
Deputy Green, who is also Chair of brain injury charity, Headway UK, has his own personal reasons for supporting the bill. 26 years ago, his nine-year-old son, Christopher, was knocked off a bike, suffering a severe brain injury which impacted on family life to an almost unimaginable extent. Christopher hadn’t been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
The emotional and financial cost of living with brain injury can be limitless. Victims may need expensive and continuous care for their entire lives, responsibilities that often fall to already distraught family members, and, in some cases, they never regain the skills and memories held prior to the accident.
Even less serious cycle accidents can still be emotionally very traumatic, as well as resulting in personal injury that may require rehabilitation sessions and time away from education or work.
Compulsory helmet laws are a major step towards improving road safety for children. They automatically demand an increase in helmet-wearing rates and, with helmets being proven to reduce the risk of brain injury by up to 88%,
brain injury statistics have been reported to fall dramatically as a direct result – by up to 50% in some countries.
As a personal injury specialist, I find it particularly difficult when cases arise involving children, so feel very encouraged to learn that measures are being put in place to improve road safety for child cyclists.
Jersey is leading by example, but it is the decision of UK politicians as to whether the mainland now follows suit.
I, for one, would be fully backing the bill.