posted 5 years ago

Why Don't Motorists Wear Helmets?

"Motoring is a dangerous activity,” says Australian manufacturer of automotive parts

“Motoring is a dangerous activity,” says Richard Davies, managing director of Davies Craig, an Australian manufacturer of automotive parts. “If a motorist is not killed in a crash one of the most common injuries is a head injury and they can produce permanent and long term damage.”

Despite the prevalence of airbags in cars motorists still die from head injuries; head injuries that could have been prevented had those motorists been wearing head protection. In the 1980s Davies’s company added a Motoring Helmet to a long list of other automotive products. Davies Craig is a manufacturer of electric water pumps, fan clutches and other automotive components which are exported all over the world. His Motoring Helmet was also exported globally. He sold 500 of them between 1985 and 1987; some were bought in the UK.

“Commonly a head injury arises when the head strikes the A or B pillar, windscreen, or the head of another occupant,” Davies told me by email from Australia. He added: “Medical treatment is a drain on society.”

The use of motoring helmets is a “sensible concept,” wrote Davies in 1988. The Davies Craig Motoring Helmet wasn’t for motorsport it was for everyday use. The helmet’s packaging featured families wearing helmets while pooling around town, and a businessman wearing one while being driven by a helmet-wearing chauffeur. Sales spiel on the helmet’s box claimed that one day “motoring helmets will be commonplace.” But they are not. Why don’t we wear motoring helmets today for every single car journey, even for just popping down to the shops? It’s a mystery because surely if such helmets saved just one life it would be worth it? Part of the reason for the product’s lack of success could be the widespread belief that motoring isn’t dangerous to car occupants. “Motorists perceived they were safe, strapped in a steel cage,” said Davies.

The helmet’s packaging stressed that “driving even for the most proficient is dangerous.” Use of the helmet was recommended for all car journeys but especially “after dark and during twilight … In rain or when roads are wet.” They were also recommended for “long trips when you may become tired” but also “within five kilometres of your home or destination.” Davies Craig also suggested their use for those under 25 and over 60.

Given that crashing motor cars is the leading cause of death among young men, and that wearing helmets could save lives, isn’t it time the UK Government made motoring helmets compulsory? Young drivers, old drivers and children are those most at risk of head injury while in cars. Before compulsion was brought in for those groups perhaps RoSPA, head injury charities and other safety bodies could start campaigns advocating the voluntary use of motoring helmets?.


Carlton Reid is the author of Roads Were Not Built For Cars, a #1 selling book in the automotive category of