An observational survey of pedal cycle helmet wearing rates was undertaken in 2008 on behalf of the Department for Transport. TRL was commissioned to conduct the seventh survey with Accent collecting the survey data. The surveys enable DfT to assess changes over time in wearing rate patterns and to inform policy on the use of cycle helmets. The survey involved observations at 79 fixed locations on major built-up roads and at 20 locations on minor built-up roads around Great Britain.
The 2008 survey on major built-up roads showed that cycle helmet wearing was 34.3%, an increase from 30.7% in 2006. The wearing rate has increased each year the survey has been carried out since 1994 when it was 16.0%. The increase since 2006 is due to the increase in adult cyclists wearing helmets from 31.5% to 35.3% as the cycle helmet wearing rate for children remained constant at 17.6% (the same as in 1994 and 2006, having dropped in between). Other findings are reported by age and gender, ethnic origin, time of day, weather, type of bike, riding position, location, and lighting conditions.
The overall cycle helmet wearing rate on minor built-up roads increased to 16.7% in 2008 from 13.8% in 2006. The rate has increased each year the survey has been carried out since 1999. When analysed by age and gender, the rate for boys aged 11-16 has decreased since 1999 from 8.6% to 7.0%. Other findings are reported by ethnic origin, time of day, weather, type of bike, riding position, location, lighting conditions, whether riding with a passenger, whether in a school uniform, on a paper round, and the presence of additional safety aids.