Cycle Helmets: A Duty to Wear?

Legal Duty

The answer to whether it is a legal duty to wear a cycle helmet is ‘no’. However, contributory negligence does not depend upon a breach of a duty, to oneself or anybody else.

In the United Kingdom, unlike some other jurisdictions (notably Spain, Australia and, by recently passed legislation, children in Jersey), the wearing of protective headgear by cyclists has never been required by law. The last attempt, which would have applied to children, was the failed Protective Headgear for Young Cyclists Bill 2004 sponsored by Eric Martlow MP. This Bill attracted widespread opposition and was defeated in April 2004 due to lack of attendance at the second reading. The Government position was that such a law would create enforcement difficulties and could adversely affect cycling levels.

Despite some support by the British Medical Association, and a charity called ‘The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust’, for mandatory helmet laws, there is no prospect of compulsory cycle helmets.

Read next section ‘Contributory negligence’

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