Bicycle helmet research before law enforcement in Western Australia
What research into road crashes and patterns of bicycle crashes did the government of Western Australia consider before it enacted mandatory bicycle helmet laws in 1991?
Such research was scarce, the primary West Australian report at that time being Bicycle Crashes in Western Australia 1985-86 (CR56 September 1987), analysed by Travers Morgan Pty Ltd and commissioned by the West Australian Government bicycle promotion unit, Bikewest, in association with the Federal Office of Road Safety.
This survey report was based upon hospital records during 1985/86, and upon a questionnaire sent by Western Australia police to all cyclists and motorists who had been involved in an accident during that timeframe.
The questionnaire had 513 respondents, among whom 46 were wearing helmets at the time of their accident and 463 were not.
CR56 noted that cycling popularity had been growing strongly in Perth - a trend that continued until helmet law enforcement in 1992.
Below is the report's only brief reference to helmets in Chapter 8 (Injury Characteristics p35). This was the best local research available to Western Australia legislators in 1991 when they decided to force cyclists to wear helmets:
The government of Western Australia did no further research into bicycle injuries or helmet efficacy before enacting mandatory bicycle helmet legislation in 1991.
As confirmed by a 1995 Legislative Council Select Committee of Inquiry, the law was introduced for one reason only... the Federal Government in Canberra had threatened to cut road funding if the law was not introduced.