Cycle helmets are often promoted on the presumption that cyclists are especially likely to suffer head injuries. The data below shows that cyclists are only a very small part of the head injury burden and that other people are much more likely to be head injury victims.
|Major head injuries per year||2,494||100%|
|Motor vehicle involvement, including pedestrians but excluding cyclists||49%|
|Cyclists||less than 2%|
Source: CIHI, 2004
|All head injuries 2003 - 2004||16,800||100%|
|Motor vehicle involvement (excl cyclists)||36%|
Source: CIHI, 2006
As the proportion of major head injuries that are cyclists is lower than the proportion of all head injuries (although the populations differ), it would appear that on average head injuries to cyclists are less severe than those to other groups.
The following table shows the average number of deaths per year over the period 1997 to 2007.
|Activity||Average TBI fatalities/year||% of total|
Source: Coronado et al, 2011
The source data also shows that only 44.5% of US bicyclist fatalities involve head injuries (325/730).
Major Head and Spinal Cord Injury Hospitalizations in Ontario, 2001-2002. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Ontario Trauma Registry Analytic Bulletin, March 2004.
Head Injuries in Canada: A Decade of Change (1994-1995 to 2003-2004) . Canadian Institute for Health Information, August 2006.
Coronado VG, Xu L, Basavaraju SV, McGuire LC, Wald MM, Faul MD, Guzman BR, Hemphill JD, 2011. Surveillance for Traumatic Brain Injury Related Deaths: United States, 1997- 2007. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention May 6, 2011 / 60(SS05);1-32.