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Goodbye to the BC Beanie Canada Rewrites Helmet Laws

The skull-hugging motorcycle helmet, often called a skid lid, is soon to be outlawed for riders in British Columbia, Canada. This latest helmet regulation is part of a new set of regulations aimed at making motorcycle rides safer per a statement by the Canadian Justice Ministry. Effective June 1 of 2012, riders and passengers will no longer be allowed to wear the minimal style of motorcycle helmets often called “beanies” or “skull caps.”

Adele Tompkins, executive director of the B.C. Coalition of Motorcyclists, says that decision isn’t likely to sit well with her constituency. Tompkins says that’s because it’s become an ingrained element of motorcycle culture in the area

“They called it the ‘B.C. beanie,’” Tompkins said.

In another month, they’ll call them history.

Canadian experts in injury biomechanics say they’ve conducted experiments and research on that particular type of helmet, and they found the results alarming. Crash tests comparing “very severe collisions” during which test subjects were wearing different helmet designs,  found the risk of a severe brain injury was hovering around 90 per cent for those wearing the B.C. beanie type of helmet, and that those types of injuries dropped to less than 5 percent for riders who were wearing a full face-shield helmet at the time of their collisions.

“if you were wearing an approved helmet, you might have a concussion or a sore head,” says Peter Cripton, a Mechanical Engineering professor and a member of the Brain Research Centre who did the study. “If you were wearing a beanie helmet, you might have a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain.”

While Tompkins said she’s opposed to any mandatory helmet laws, she added that many members of her coalition, some 6,000 in number, think that educating both motorcyclists and drivers is more important for safety than mandatory helmet laws.

“It should be the individual’s choice,” Tompkins said.

According to the Canadian government, estimates say that motorcycles make up only about 3 per cent of insured vehicles in B.C., but they account for approximately 10 per cent of all road fatalities.