The Case for Motorist Helmets

Mikael Colville-Andersen
12 min readNov 24, 2019

Helmets for motorists have been invented — in all seriousness- in order to save lives and reduce serious injury. Almost 50% of all serious head injuries happen in car crashes. Why are motorists not forced to wear them? The science is clear.

Let me be frank. People who naggingly promote bicycle helmets or mandatory helmet laws either privately or publicly — but who DON’T simultaneously support helmets for motorists or even pedestrians — are no friends of urban cycling. They are tiresome pests. Singling out bicycle users with sanctimonious finger-wagging about head gear is destructive to the public health, irrational and unintelligent.

Let’s take a look at motorist helmets. First, I’ll highlight some historical examples of commercial helmets for motorists and then we’ll get to the science about why they are still a good idea.

The Motoring Helmet — Davies Craig— Australia, 1980's

The first model I came across a decade ago was the Motoring Helmet by Davies Craig, an Australian company that makes auto cooling equipment, who brought this product to the market in the 1980’s. We can just let their copy text on the box and in the instruction manual do the talking;

The box reads: “You have made a sound decision to purchase your Davies, Craig Motoring Helmet. Wear it and don’t feel self-conscious. Driving even for the most proficient is dangerous. Ultimately, motoring helmets will be commonplace, but in the meantime, you will be a leader whilst those who may consider your good sense misplaced, will follow.”

From the instruction manual we can learn these important tips:
“Davies, Craig recommends you wear your Motoring Helmet at all times when motoring but particularly at the following, documented high-risk times:

- After consuming any alcohol.
- When other drivers are likely to have consumed alcohol especially 4:00PM to 2:00AM Fridays and Saturdays.
- After dark and during twilight.
- In rain or when the roads are wet.
- During long trips when you may become tired.
- Within five kilometres of your home or destination.
- Christmas, Easter and long weekends.
- If you are aged under 25 or over 60.”

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Mikael Colville-Andersen

Urban designer, author and host of the global documentary series about urbanism, The Life-Sized City. Impatient Idealist.