Interesting to see that France is about to introduce a new law that will make it obligatory for children under the age of 12 to wear cycle helmets if they are riding themselves or being carried as passengers.
As a result of a report published by a cross ministry road safety committee last Autumn, the new legislation takes effect from 22 March 2017, in an attempt to reduce the severity of head and facial injuries sustained by children in bike related incidents. Failure to comply with this new piece of legislation could result in a fine of 90 euros for the accompanying adult. Worth noting if you are heading to France with your kids and their bikes this summer!
French government statistics estimate that around 5.5 million children under the age of 12 are occasional or regular bike users. During 2015, 181 children under the age of 12 were involved in cycling related road accidents resulting in one fatality and hospital treatment for 71. (ONISR 2015)
Over the five years from 2011 to 2015 1,178 children under the age of 12 were involved in cycling accidents, there were 26 fatalities, 442 hospitalisations, 665 minor injuries and only 45 children were unharmed. 91% of accidents and 85% of deaths occurred in built up areas. (ONISR 2015)
Cycle helmets are already obligatory for everyone in Finland and 11 other European countries currently have laws in place concerning the wearing of bike helmets by children.
Up to age 10: Malta
Up to age 12: Austria; Latvia
Up to age 15: Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden
Up to age 16: Spain; Croatia; Estonia
Up to age 18: Czech Republic; Lithuania
There is no doubt that there are sound arguments on both sides of the cycle helmet debate. In Australia the number of cyclists went down dramatically after helmets became mandatory while in Seattle numbers rose. Wherever you stand on the debate it will be interesting to see the outcome of the new French legislation.