Fri, Oct 26, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Large percentage of bike helmets declared `unsafe'

MAKING HEADLINES Three cycling helmets failed a strap-strength test, while the BSMI said six others lacked proper safety information labels

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thirty-one percent of bicycle helmets tested in a recent study failed to conform to safety guidelines published by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI), the bureau said yesterday.

Of the 29 helmets included in the study, six (21 percent) were not labeled with safety information in accordance with bureau guidelines. Three of the helmets (10 percent) failed the bureau's strap strength test.

Among the helmets that did not meet the bureau's guidelines were models sold under the KHS, Skorpion, Super Safety Helmets, Giant, Specialized, Limar520, Mango-Super Sprint, Prowell, Ace, Cratoni and Merida brands.

The substandard helmets pose a threat to public safety since the number of bike owners is on the increase as a result of the convenience and health benefits of cycling, Consumer Foundation chairman Cheng Jen-Hung (程仁宏) said.

"It is a misconception that helmets are unnecessary because bicycles operate at low speeds," he said at a press conference held jointly with the bureau. "Every other day a cycling fatality occurs, most often as a result of head trauma."

Cheng cited a survey released by the Bureau of Health Promotion last year that suggested cycling injuries averaged 3,700 cases annually from 1999 to 2002, with a fatality rate of 3 percent to 5 percent.

Chao Kai (趙凱), deputy convener of the foundation's Medical Dispute Committee and also an emergency room (ER) doctor at the Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital, said helmet strap strength is a key factor that affects the survival rate of patients involved in cycling accidents.

Chao cited a 1990 study by the state of Victoria, Australia, that found most head trauma cases resulted after the victim's helmet had fallen off or shifted during the impact.

"A good helmet reduces the extent of trauma by 80 percent, which greatly affects an ER patient's chances of survival," he said. "Consumers should purchase BSMI-certified helmets because they have passed the strap test."

"Since most cyclists are children, the cost to society of substandard helmets is substantial," Chao said.

Noting that the number of accidental deaths had dropped 3,000 counts annually following the legislation of the Guidelines Regulating Implementation and Promotion of Motorcycle Helmets (機器腳踏車駕駛人及附載座人戴安全帽實施及宣導辦法) in 1997, Cheng said his foundation would continue to work with the bureau to push for legislation regulating the use of bicycle helmets.

Bureau Chief Secretary Julie Chuang (莊素琴) agreed with Cheng, saying laws should be in place to stipulate the wearing of helmets.

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