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TitleMedical certificates exempting motorcyclists from wearing helmets: an Australian experience
AuthorsSimpson DA, Brazenor GA, Dan NG, McLean AJ
TypeJournal Article
AbstractIn Australia, motorcyclists are obliged by law to wear approved protective helmets, in one state since 1961 and throughout the country since 1974. However, in two Australian states, traffic authorities have exempted individuals from helmet use on the basis of medical certificates. In 1989, some 888 exemptions were granted in one of these states (New South Wales). In 865 of these, the medical certificates were reviewed independently by three assessors appointed by the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia. The chief diagnoses recorded were headache (38.8%). orthopaedic problems (27.9%), especially neck pain, and psychogenic problems (9.6%), especially claustrophobia. Outsize heads were cited in only 5 (0.6%) cases. In the majority of cases, the medical certificates did not cite objective medical evidence in support of the complaint. In some instances it seems unlikely that the diagnoses given were intended to be taken seriously, but in others it was clear that the certifying doctors were concerned by their roles in supporting a claim for exemption that might have fatal consequences for the exempted person. In a few cases, it appeared that the reason given for exemption would in itself constitute an increased risk of serious injury, with or without a helmet. The assessors concluded that in view of the proven risks of riding motorcycles unhelmeted, it was wrong to give any exemptions on medical grounds, and this view has been accepted by the Minister for Roads in New South Wales.
Journal TitleJournal of Traffic Medicine
Journal Volume (Issue)20(4)
Page Range171-176
Page Count6
Notesavailable from CASR library on request

Simpson DA, Brazenor GA, Dan NG, McLean AJ (1992). Medical certificates exempting motorcyclists from wearing helmets: an Australian experience. Journal of Traffic Medicine, 20(4), 171-176.