Revised law to require all bicyclists to make effort to wear helmet

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Adult bike helmets are seen at a shop in Sendai.

All bicycle riders will be responsible for making an effort to wear a helmet under the revised Road Traffic Law to be implemented in April next year, the National Police Agency said Tuesday.

The obligation to make the effort was included in the revised law enacted in April this year because many people have sustained head injuries when falling off a bicycle. No penalty will be imposed for those who do not wear a helmet, but the agency will call for people to wear one, saying doing so will save many lives.

According to the NPA, of the 2,145 people who died in bicycle accidents in the five years through 2021, 1,237 people, or about 58%, sustained a fatal injury to their head, far more than those who were fatally injured in their chest at 12% and in their necks at 8%.

The agency also looked into the death rate among people injured in bicycle accidents and found that the rate was 0.26% among those who were wearing a helmet, but the rate was about 2.2 times higher at 0.59% among those without headgear.

Since 2008, the law has only made parents responsible for making an effort to have their children wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle.

Some local governments, such as the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Ehime prefectural government, have an ordinance calling for everyone regardless of age to wear a helmet.

Police across the country have run road safety campaigns calling for bicyclists to wear headgear.

However, helmets have not been widely enough adopted.

Under the circumstances, the NPA decided to amend the law and expand the extent of the obligation to make an effort to wear a helmet to all bicyclists, including those in child seats.