The case of Darren Coombes is well known to UK cycling activists. Attempts by a motor insurer to counter-sue the parents and carer for negligence due to young Darren not having worn a helmet when struck by their insured, speeding in a 30 limit, were defeated and led to the founding of the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.

Now, in the USA, it is being tried again.  AP reports that a driver currently serving a manslaughter sentence for killing a 14-year-old is now counter-suing the lad’s parents. The driver, who has a string of convictions for driving while impaired, has lodged counter suit for:

great mental and emotional pain and suffering,” wrongful conviction and imprisonment, and the loss of his “capacity to carry on in life’s activities.

This is a direct result of helmet promotion. A victim is being blamed for not using a device which its promoters generally do not point out is not designed or specified for road traffic collisions, in a situation where it is extremely unlikely that the device would have made any difference. We can hope this attempt fails but it will certainly not be the last.

Still think there is no downside?

Uncritical admiration

A Nottinghamshire radio presenter says “I think I’d still be in the QMC if it wasn’t for my helmet,” after a four-hour memory loss following a concussion in a bike crash. Really? Is he certain of that? In June 2010 I was in a crash when a car turned across me as I was going downhill at probably around 25mph. I walked out of the hospital six hours later on my own two feet without so much as a headache (though the broken rib was another story). I was hectored by numerous hospital staff including one doctor who told me point-blank that I must either start wearing a helmet or give up cycling.

So, two collisions, similar outcomes (concussion). In one case the rider was wearing a helmet and it Saved His Life™, in the other the rider wasn’t and was told that if he had been it would have Saved His Life™. Or maybe the doctors are wrong and actually helmets make very little difference in crashes severe enough to cause unconsciousness – as one would expect from a perusal of the specifications.