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Risk compensation and bicycle helmets: A false conclusion and uncritical citations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. University of Helsinki, Finland.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2932-2383
Number of Authors: 42018 (English)In: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, ISSN 1369-8478, E-ISSN 1873-5517, Vol. 58, p. 548-555Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Some researchers and many anti-helmet advocates often state that when cyclists wear a helmet they feel safer and take more risks. This hypothesis-risk compensation - if true, would reduce, annul or even reverse the assumed benefits of helmets in reducing head injuries. Consequently, this hypothesis is often used to oppose mandatory helmet laws. In this article, we illustrate how one of the few studies that attempted to experimentally test the hypothesis in relation to bicycle helmets arrives at a false conclusion. As a result it is often cited as evidence of risk compensation. Given the lack of experimental studies in this research area, the impact of a single study in shaping the opinions of the general public and of policy makers can be significant.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 58, p. 548-555
Keywords [en]
Risk taking, Behavioral adaptation, Cycling, Risk homeostasis
National Category
Psychology Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-162004DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2018.06.038ISI: 000447357900046OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-162004DiVA, id: diva2:1264157
Available from: 2018-11-19 Created: 2018-11-19 Last updated: 2018-11-19Bibliographically approved

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