Cyclists' use of helmets targeted

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Constable Rob Cleary prepares for a campaign targeting cyclists failing to wear approved helmets.

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Southern cyclists failing to wear helmets will be in the sights of police who want to reduce injury and improve safety on the roads.

Constable Rob Cleary, of the Strategic Traffic Unit, said police would be targeting cyclists of all ages in the next month because more people were failing to wear approved helmets.

The focus would be on school approach routes, skate park approaches and cyclists in general, Mr Cleary said.

Police would be offering those not wearing cycle helmets 14 days to get one, he said.

"It makes sense to spend $25 to $30 on a helmet rather than $55 on the infringement fee and it ensures riders will then have a helmet available in the future," Mr Cleary said.

But, for cyclists who rode with their helmets hanging off the handlebars or in their bags, no accommodation would be offered.

Bicycle helmets played a significant part in reducing the severity of injuries, especially the long-term care involved with head trauma, Mr Cleary said.

Dunedin-based neurosurgeon Ahmad Taha said he supported any measures to enforce and promote the wearing of helmets by cyclists.

Wearing a helmet in a high impact crash may not prevent a head injury but helmets could be effective in minor to moderate impacts, he said.

Mr Cleary said 2011 Ministry of Transport figures showed more New Zealanders were cycling, with a corresponding increase in cyclist injuries with nine fatalities, 167 serious injuries and 616 minor injuries reported.

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- The Southland Times

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