Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Honda funds helmet law research

(Image: 2008 Pedal and Motor Cycle Helmet Performance Study brochure)

Thinking back to Dr Dinh's letter in the MJA and his claim that ‘this Sydney based study was the first to place motorcyclists and pedal cyclists side by side,’ I want to know why didn’t the media ask whatever happened to the University of New South Wales School of Safety Science’s Pedal and Motor Cycle Helmet Performance Study in 2008?

Was that study ever completed or was it affected by the confusing closure of the School of Risk and Safety Science?

Has that study been re-purposed into the new one mentioned by Dr Dinh, providing a reconditioned weapon for the helmet lobby in their quest for constant PR?

And just as it was troubling back then to discover that UNSW research staff also worked for one of UNSW’s study’s funding partners

…so it is troubling now that a slick of oil can be seen behind the new combined pedal and motor cyclist helmet study. In the MJA, Dr Dinh notes that funding was provided by Institute of Injury and Trauma Management and St George Honda Trauma and Critical Care Research Programme.

Can information be objective when motor-vehicle companies are behind the research?

Could there be a conflict or a perceived conflict of interest?

Perhaps Honda could just stop making killing machines if they want to help?

Whatever, could our media please start quizzing the spin - because as I've mentioned before, that's what's doing the rounds at the moment...with their blessing.


  1. If Honda sponsored this paper than they must be feeling sorry for themselves about now. Because the finding of Dinh's study was that bicycle helmets are more protective for cyclists in a cycling collision than motorcycle helmets are for motorcyclists in a motorcycling collision (some of whom may ride Hondas).
    Ie helmets work in collisions compared to no helmets, but pushbike helmets woork better in that domain than motorbike helmets do in their domain.

    Not a surprise when you consider the kinetic energies involved. If the paper was sponsored by Bell, Giro or Met etc I htink allegations of bias may carry more weight.

    To make any conclusion about the efficacy of bicycle helmets it would mean comparing helkmeted riders to unhelmeted riders in similar accident conditions. Dinh's paper found these conclusions in his limited study. Other papers with more robustness have done the same.
    Are there any similar papers that have shown no or a negative effect from wearing pushbike helmets in a collision?

    This is not an attempt from me to support MHLs. I have no interest in their continuance.


    seamus gardiner (kookbusting)

    1. >the finding of Dinh's study was that bicycle helmets are more protective for cyclists in a cycling collision than motorcycle helmets are for motorcyclists in a motorcycling collision.

      Doesn't that tell you more about Dinh's study than about the efficacy of motorcycle helmets? Even you admitted that Dinh's study had issues when you were called to account on The Conversation. How many motorcyclists don't get to meet Dr Dinh due to the protective effect of their helmets and thus don't have a chance of being included in his findings? Who knows, and that'd sort of be the point. But then again, it seems many millions of accident prone Australians have avoided ER when going headers off their bicycles, so I guess it's swings and roundabouts. As long as you are wearing your helmet - those swings and roundabouts are dangerous things - mandatory helmets for playground equipment would be just the ticket.

    2. I've never said that dinh's study was coclusive or particularly good. It has many limitations.
      The motorcyclists that dinh 'don't get to meet' can be gathered from road accident statistics, minus those that present to ED.
      it's amusing to me that you could tie yourself in knots trying to find bias in a paper.... Oh, the irony.

    3. Haha you the "kookbuster" accuse others of bias confirmation, of cherry picking, of sprouting nonsense, how pray tell does your statement that Dinh could have gathered the numbers from accident statistics have any bearing on his study and his conclusions?

      To quote you regarding Dinh's conclusion:- "bicycle helmets are more protective for cyclists in a cycling collision than motorcycle helmets are for motorcyclists in a motorcycling collision".

      And here are the numbers that this sweeping statement was based on:-

      Total = 110, helmets = 70, without helmets = 40
      Cyclists with severe head injuries:
      Total = 15, helmets = 6, without helmets = 9
      The helmet effect:
      p value = 0.04 (no effect size, standard error etc given)

      Total = 238, helmets = 206, without helmets = 32
      Motorcyclists with severe head injuries:
      Total = 35, helmets = 26, without helmets = 9
      p value = 0.02 (no effect size, standard error etc given)

      I fail to see the irony. The conclusion is piffle and not worth the study it is based on. Unless of course the irony was your use of misdirection to justify a conclusion which can only be made when drawing a very long bow.

    4. Hello anonymous,
      I note that your irony detector has indeed failed you.
      The problem with Dinh's paper is that not in the methodology it is in the conclusions. Dinh is right to draw comnclusions from his research, it is just that the strength of the effect that he describes is very low; certainly not enough to draw strong conclusions. I believe that he is biased towards helmets, not from his methodology but from his conclusion. As I have described in 'the conversation' he overreaches with the conclusion of his paper. he does not over-reach in describing how the body of evidence worldwide suggests the protective effects of helmets and that his modest paper adds (if little) to this body. hardly a surprise given that if you want to protect an egg you put it in a container that absorbs energy, want to protect the brain you put it in a... oh, nevermind.

      You make a logical error if you conclude that Dinh's weak paper is repreentative of all papers on this subject. The greatest irony, of course, is the conspiracy theory surrounfding Honda's sponsorship... when the paper supports the relative dangers of motorcycle riding over bicycle riding. Of course that irony may be lost as well...

      Anyway, the irony is that you would go to such lengths to find bias in every paper that shows a positive effect from bicycle helmets yet have a blindness towards how this is bias in itself (the texas sharpshooter fallacy). Do you have anything to say about Chris Rissell's or Curnow's bias, which is similar to Dinh's? Or is your bias-o-meter only calibrated one way?


      Seamus Gardiner

  2. There is a Canberra coroner's report declaring cause of cyclist's death to be a closed skull injury with diffuse axonal injury present - I intend to mention this in my defence when my case is heard at the Downing Centre, Sydney, September 19, 2013.

  3. Sue,
    i seriously have no malice towards you or your case when it goes to court. But, I hope for your sake that your magistrate is credulous. The latest research that I have viewed that has come out in the last year does not indicate an increase in DAI as a consequence of wearing bike helmets, nor any likelihood of a physical circumstance where this is likely to occur.
    One instance of a bicyclist dying from a head injury where DAI is the cause is not a case for or against bicycle helmets. If your magistrate is not versed in logic or the scientific method than you may be home free....

    regards, Seamus

  4. If motorcycles don't need helmets and bicycles need helmets, that's clearly the message they want: bikes are more dangerous than motorbikes.
    For them, bicycles are the most dangerous vehicles. That's what they want to show.
    It is an evident conflict.
    Luis Peters

  5. Luis,
    You have completely misinterpreted this. Motorcycle helmets aren't as good for preventing head injury in motorcycle accidents as bicycle helmets are for bicycle Accidents. The road statistics reveal that motorcycling is more dangerous than bicycling. Probably due to relative speeds, I imagine.
    Bicycling is safer than motorcycling. Dinh's report says nothing about the relative safety of either.
    How is this conspiracy?