Nanny State is an apologist's term for police state.

Government is full of bureaucrats who pretend to "look after" people. They rarely do anything useful, and often create costly red tape or inefficient legislation to create the impression their solving a problem even if non existed. The result at best usually does little more than provide cushy jobs in fairly unproductive public-service positions to shuffle paper around.
The other half are busy arranging shady property zoning or overpriced contracts on infrastructure to create short term employment. The helmet law fits right into their ideology. Politicians are ignorant of the problems it causes and have so far failed to make an effort to do a productivity analysis or repeal it. It is a disaster and It is embarrassing, but not enough for them to act on it and it suits their interfering nature. Most politicians know very little even about their own portfolio and most have no idea what they are doing and rely on what the department heads tell them.

Around 1992 the Federal government (Labour/Liberal) without a referendum or even getting proper community feedback decided in a moment of paranoid hysteria to force in mandatory bicycle helmet laws across all states by threatening to withhold federal road funding from the states.
This tactic is underhanded and questionable since tax payers are having their own taxes withheld from them by a hostile federal government with the state government having no recourse to little say in the matter.

Even with overwhelming evidence that the law has done more harm than good. The Labour Party and Liberal Party have failed to review, revoke or modify the law and ministers continue to blindly repeat slogans or refer to discredited or cherry picked research while ignoring any post law critical evaluation of the effect of the mandatory helmet laws even though many thousands of people are being fined every year. It's a clear case group-think when they wont even consider or are blatantly ignorant of new research.

The Liberal party (doublespeak for conservative party) have done little if anything to criticise the helmet law or remove it so far. This tends to indicate that both parties are complicit in each others stupidity. It's even likely they are receiving "donations" from commercial interests to ensure the law is kept in place. It is very likely helmet manufacturing, motor industry or oil companies would have an interest in keeping this law in place and have financial incentives to keep both parties on side. It is increasingly common that Labour and Liberal have convergent policy's giving voters little choice, but with such large donations coming in they are able to dominate election results thanks to their massive advertising budgets.

But please remember the Labour party instituted this ill conceived unfair and discriminatory mandatory helmet law, so consider putting labour last next time you vote. Because their laws cause unwarranted state instituted fear tactics, fines and harassment against people riding bicycles. !

Bureaucrats and interfering do-gooders seem to think they know what is best for everyone, and anyone who disagrees with them too bad you will be stopped by the police you will be fined. If you don't pay or try to fight the charges in court they will revoke your drivers license, even lock you up and or take your belongings !. Lets keep in mind this treatment is simply for not wearing a bicycle helmet, which in most other countries is considered a matter of personal choice for any grown person. Having laws like this is a clear indication that Australia is the most over governed country in the world, Next thing we know there will be fines for not tying your shoe laces or failing to wear a hat in the sun.

Politicians ignorance and stupidity

It is far better to prevent an accident than try to minimize the damage after it occurs. Sadly the Helmet Law ideology ignores this even though helmets fail to protect against fatal accidents. The same "Helmets save lives" line is used over and over again but is at best a half truth one could equally well say "helmets kill people" Exaggeration of the effectiveness of a safety product which fails to work is is misleading and places people in danger. Yet helmets intended only for minor head impact protection under 20Kmph are promoted as a life saving device in spite of the fact that dozens of people are killed and seriously injured every year in accidents while wearing them. ! If as much time and effort were spent on real ways of preventing accidents as is spent on bludgeoning everyone with helmet laws and fines there would be less accidents and deaths than we currently have and indeed far more people out riding bikes.

No Common Sense

Bicycle Helmet Laws seems totally at odds with common sense. Car, truck and motorcycle drivers using the road are expected to pass a road user examination test. Now just imagine the chaos if they treated car drivers like cyclists and instead of requiring them to show any knowledge of road rules they simply gave them the keys and told them to wear a helmet instead !. It may sound funny but that is the attitude of helmet law advocates to bicycle safety. So instead of praising the wisdom of the helmet law when it occasionally appears to or might have reduced someone's potential injury's, perhaps instead we should be asking why these injury's, accidents and deaths are occurring in the first place.

People over the age of 12 are by law not allowed to ride on footpaths, yet most teenagers are not licensed drivers and have little road experience, Laws forcing them to ride on the road put them in danger.

Fear Tactics

The Mandatory Helmet Law creates the impression among adults and children that riding a bicycle is somehow inherently more dangerous than any other activity. People ride in fear and concentrate on the superficial wearing of helmets in an almost superstitious manner rather than minimizing their risks by careful route planning and other techniques which can prevent accidents. The fact is that most fatal bicycle accidents are a result of motor vehicle collisions and a light weight bicycle helmet provides little if any protection in such incidents.

60% [ref 1] of bicycle road crashes are a result of cyclists error, the remainder may be preventable by the cyclists behaviour few are plain motor vehicle driver errors. Wearing a helmet has no effect on risk of an accident it is not productive to overemphasise helmet wearing as it has no effect on risk and offers little benefit in such accidents. It should be up to the cyclist to use common sense to minimize their own risks and if they want to wear a helmet it should be up to them and not a bunch of bureaucrats in the Labour party.

In bicycle accidents adults actually have little risk of head injury, hand and limb injury are far more common. Few head injury's actually cause permanent or fatal damage, people frequently hit their heads during sport and at work, it does not kill you every time you bump your head, and most bicycle riders are are at little if any risk of having accidents where a helmet would offer any useful measure protection.

Subversive influence

It is also quite possible that the original intent of the law was simply to discourage cycling and encourage greater usage of motor vehicles instead, that being the most obvious result. The motor vehicle industry, petrol companies, and related industries may have had an influence on labour/liberal policy here and with great success. Not the first time either, labour did a very questionable deal with the Indonesians to carve up the Timor gap giving BHP access to large oil reserves around this time also. Many years back large numbers of children would ride to school and there would be racks of bicycles chained up nearby. But the helmet hysteria and fear quickly put an end to that and soon parents were to afraid to let their children ride any more. Some car drivers dislike cyclists using the roads this may have influenced the policy. Forcing people to wear a stupid looking foam helmet would be both inconvenient and in hot Australian conditions far less comfortable, though newer helmets have ventilation holes and don't look quite as ridiculous they still have not overcome these drawbacks.

The Helmet Religion

other sports

Motor racing drivers are required to wear multiple point restraint harnesses, helmets, neck braces and flame retardant suits. Normal drivers only wear a seat belt.
In competitive cycling riders travel at speeds of over 100kmph in tight formations, competition rules may require them to wear helmets. A bicycle rider doing 20kph along a path should not have to be subjected to competition safety rules.



Police harassment.

Recently I observed bicycle police on a multi-use path who had stopped 2 women and appeared to be dispensing a fine to one for not wearing a helmet, her hair style was not helmet compatible. They were in no danger yet they were stopped and fined by the police. Our tax dollars go towards police persecuting harmless bicycle riders, while at the same time I get continual reports of theft and assault in the very area I live.

I have heard also of police stopping people and letting the air out of their bicycle tires for not wearing a helmet. In one case the victim was then further humiliated by having the police continually tail them as they walked the remainder of their journey on foot pushing their bicycle, here is an example which made the news.

Sydney Morning Herrald . (November 8, 2010). Police left teen stranded with flat tyres
Retrieved from http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/police-left-teen-stranded-with-flat-tyres-20101108-17jis.html

Statistically you are more likley to die walking that you are while riding a bike the same distance so the police not only put this teenager in danger of dehydration but increased the risk of him being killed at the same time fortunately it did not end up like this story. !

Melissa Davey - Sydney Morning Herrald . (January 3, 2012). Teenager's family angry vehicle driver hasn't been charged
Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/teenagers-family-angry-vehicle-driver-hasnt-been-charged-20120102-1pidy.html

The mandatory helmet law is misdirecting police effort from preventing crime into thuggery against innocent bicycle riders and even placing them danger some more examples below.

Geoff Maslen . (27 March 1998). Jailed for not putting on a bike helmet
Retrieved from http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=303664

3news.co.nz . (2012). Is not wearing a bike helmet punishable with pepper spray
Retrieved from http://www.3news.co.nz/Is-not-wearing-a-bike-helmet-punishable-with-pepper-spray/tabid/423/articleID/91551/Default.aspx

Discrimination.

I myself currently suffer under the helmet law. When riding I found wearing a helmet reduces my ability to keep cool. I have an eye condition which is worsened by heat stress and the most practical and efficient way to cool my face and head while cycling is by the wind and perspiration. That means removing any coverings such as a helmet from my head before I become too hot and suffer further permanent damage to my eyesight. Getting a medical bicycle helmet exemption in south Australia is impossible - the number of exemptions ever granted can be counted on one hand i was told by a member of the DTEI. Rather than risk persecution by the police i drive more often instead - never mind the environment or my physical health the government don't care !.

safety.

Some Years back I observed 2 children walk out from behind a bush directly in front of a car. The driver saw them just in time and decelerated hard and the children looked up in complete surprise to see a front bumper only meters from them. Fortunately they walked away without a scratch, But had the driver had not seen them in time they would have been injured or probably killed. This minor incident emphasized that it's far better to prevent an accident than try to minimize damage after it occurs. No doubt after such a near miss they now look before crossing the road.

Opportunity Cost.

Around 1500 people die on Australian roads each year. Only 2% are cyclists while 15% are pedestrians, one sixth are motorcyclists, a third are motor vehicle passengers, and half are drivers. [ref 2]
Of the 30 cyclists killed each year helmets were worn by most but fail to work. [ref 3] Wearing helmets does not stop accidents or even save people. Overemphasis on the helmet law distracts from real measures like designing safer roads. The helmet law creates uncertainty among cyclists as to how they can reduce their risks and prevent the accidents from occurring, telling people accidents are unavoidable and therefore helmets must be mandatory deters cycling and gives remaining cyclists no incentive to undertake behaviour which can prevent accidents themselves.

Helmets may cause accidents by increasing rider fatigue or through risk compensation as many people have been mislead about safety through highly exaggerated claims of their effectiveness.

Helmets and especially incorrectly worn helmets can cause spinal and neck injury and increase chances of some head injury's. Australian cycling accident/death rates are actually worse than many countries where helmets are optional.
Because Bicycle users are forced to wear helmets they can't wear a proper sun hat to protect themselves from skin cancer which kills around 2000 people in Australia each year. yet another unconsidered factor. [ref 4] Unable to protect their face and neck from the sun on say a 1 hour ride will expose a rider to around 10x the recommended daily UV exposure.

Now add accidents and deaths caused by cyclist comfort problems due to helmet usage i.e. by heat stroke and heart attack, dehydration etc, they failed to count this either, rather short sighted considering we have such hot weather in Australia.

Though mandatory helmet laws are claimed to make us safer they actually have the opposite effect especially when all things are considered.

Thirty times More people die in cars than on bicycles so if we add in extra deaths caused by increased usage of cars or walking in lieu of bicycles that is another factor. Most pedestrian and cyclist deaths are due to collisions with motor vehicles, unfairly favouring cars increases traffic thereby killing more pedestrians and cyclists than would otherwise occur.

Obesity disorders are a rising health crisis and Australia is one of the ten worst. Labors nanny state mentality and bicycle helmet laws have helped spread a contagious fear of bicycles and other outdoor activity's.

The ABS causes of death figures [ref 5] Lists over 42000 deaths every year which may be prevented by regular exercise. Regular cycling can help prevent problems like Heart disease, Diabetes, Dementia, Stroke and suicide. However Helmet laws the police ,fines and Labors nanny state attitude are stopping people from riding bicycles and getting exercise. If just 1% of these deaths were prevented by exercise, that could save over 400 lives each year. [ref 6]


Reference list

1. Australian Transport Safety Bureau . (2006). Deaths of cyclists due to road crashes
Retrieved from http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/publications/2006/pdf/death_cyclists_road.pdf

2. Safer Roads . (nd). Get the Facts
Retrieved from http://www.aaa.asn.au/saferroads/get_the_facts.asp

3. cambridge-news.co.uk . (2012). Cycle helmets useless in serious accidents claims report
Retrieved from http://www.metro.co.uk/news/892453-helmets-useless-in-major-bike-accidents-says-new-study

4. terrordownunder.ning.com . (2010). Almost killed by Queensland police over minor infringement.
Retrieved from http://terrordownunder.ning.com/profiles/blogs/almost-killed-by-queensland

5. Australian Bureau Of Statistics . (2008). Causes of Death
Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3303.0

6. Piet De Jong . (2010). The Health Impact of Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Laws
Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1368064


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