US government drops claim that helmets reduce 85% of head injuries

The US government has dropped its claim that bicycle helmets reduce 85% of head injuries. The claim came from “research” conducted by helmet advocates in 1989. Many researchers have tried to replicate its results, but have been unable to do so. Amid severe criticism, the authors had to re-work their data, and arrived at a lower effectiveness rate.

This invalid claim is often quoted by people eager to push helmets. The US government had quoted the claim on its web site.

In 2013,  the US Department of Transportation agreed to delete the claim. This followed a petition lodged under the Federal Data Quality Act. The Data Quality Act requires information on federal web sites to be accurate and supported by appropriate research.

This was first reported by the Washington Area Bicyclsists Association. This followed its successful campaign against a bicycle helmet law in Maryland in early 2013.

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