Teenage cyclist lucky to escape serious injury after head hits winsdscreen

Thursday 11th February 2016 – 11.10am – Murray MacGregor.

A teenage cyclist whose head hit the windscreen of a small van, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet, has had an extremely lucky escape.

The incident happened outside a Coventry school at about 8.40am on Wednesday morning.

An ambulance and a paramedic area support officer were sent to Radford Road, outside Barrs Hill School and Community College.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “When ambulance staff arrived they found a small van with a badly damaged windscreen, with a dent in the bonnet.

“The 14 year old cyclist was confused and he couldn’t remember the incident, which are all the hallmarks of a head injury; the teenager was not wearing a cycle helmet at the time.

“Due to his condition, he was taken on blue lights to University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire where doctors were waiting for his arrival. Fortunately, it appears as though his injury is not too serious.

“The driver was shaken by the incident but was uninjured.

“Wearing a cycle helmet, or not, has to be a personal decision. However, it is the view of the ambulance service that wearing a helmet when cycling is advisable.”


Could Have Been Worse (11-2-16) 1 Could Have Been Worse (11-2-16) 2 Could Have Been Worse (11-2-16) 3


  1. The first sentence makes no sense whatsoever, and the entire article doesn’t even mention if the driver was drunk, on the phone or speeding. The whole article expects the victim of violence to modify their behaviour. Will the ambulance service demand helmets next time a pedestrian or driver suffers a brain injury? If not why not? The risk is higher for drivers, remember.

    1. Thanks for your comment Harry. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to say anything about the circumstances of what happened, but you might be looking in the wrong direction. Whilst there is a potentially interesting discussion to be had about head injuries in cars and restraint systems, that is not the purpose of this article. The issue here is that, however it came to pass, a 14 year old’s head ended up striking the windscreen of a van hard enough to fracture the glass. As I am sure you are aware, that is a considerable force. In the view of the paramedic at the scene and the doctor T the hospital who saw the injury and the aftermath of it, the wearing of a helmet would have provided protection. Neither you or I were there, they were. I think we ought to perhaps give them a little benefit of the doubt on their view? As we are very clear, it is a personal decision to wear a helmet or not. However, in the experience of our staff who attend such incidents, wearing a helmet has made a difference in many occasions, but it’s up to you whether you choose to take that advice or ignore it.

  2. Possibly the stupidest article ever put out by people who plainly don’t know how to string a sentence together, let alone comment on an incident in which a standard cycle helmet would make zero difference and may even make things worse. Who wrote this garbage? Will they criticise the next driver with head injuries?

    1. Thanks for your comments Bob. Perhaps interesting to note that both the paramedic at scene and the doctor at hospital disagree with your view. However, as we say, it’s up to you whether you wear one or not.

  3. The first sentence here states that this child’s head hit the windscreen of a van because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. There are very many circumstances that may have contributed to a van colliding into a child outside a school with this much force. The helmet (or lack thereof) isn’t one of them.

    Making an example of this child in the way that you have leaves many questions unasked:

    Is there a 20mph zone outside this school? Is it enforced? Did the driver of the van watch out for children in the road when passing a school? Is there a no-parking zone so that drivers can spot children stepping/riding off the pavement? Were people parking in the no-parking zone, obstructing the view? Was the driver distracted, or was his/her vision obstructed by the heaps of paperwork on his dashboard? Was he/she on the phone? Sure-the kid on his bike might have made a mistake too. Are there any safe bike routes provided between the school and pupils homes, so they don’t have to mix with motor vehicles?……….

    Of course the Ambulance Service have to focus on damage limitation (and I’m a massive admirer of you all), but the rest of us should focus more on road danger reduction/ preventing collisions.
    Incidents involving bicycles are not a binary helmet/ non-helmet issue.

    1. Thank you for your comment Tabitha. Many of the issues you raise are very valid and I am sure will be investigated by the police. However, what is very clear is that, for whatever reason, the child’s head collided with the windscreen. To cause that much damage suggests that there was considerable force involved. Based on the medical input of those who were either there or provided treatment to the young man, he is extremely fortunate not to have suffered a very much more serious head injury. For us, to some extent, how the collision came to take place is for others to consider. For us, we are interested in trying to treat the injuries we find and hopefully impart some information that might one day help reduce the chance of someone suffering a life changing injury. It is the view of the vast majority (though not all) of our staff, the doctors we work with at major trauma centres and on the air ambulances, that in many cases wearing a helmet can make a significant difference to the outcome of such an incident. To that end we feel it is important to encourage people to wear a helmet when out on a bicycle. It will clearly not help in all occasions, but our experience and the vast majority of clinical papers would suggest that in many cases one can make a difference. Now we could argue, as others have, that we should be looking at what caused the crash, and that is a valid area to focus on, but equally if there is something simple that could save a life, then we think that is something worth pushing out to the public. So, yes, the issue of whether to wear a helmet or not is not the be all and end all of how the crash came to happen, but, it very much is a binary issue when we look at doing something to help reduce the chance of injury for those travelling on two wheels. Hope that helps and thanks again for your comment

  4. This was my son he is so very lucky i want to thank the ambulance service the doctors and the people who helped him at the scene i hope this is a lesson to all children it might not be cool to wear a helmet but it could save your life it could have been so much worse for him when people are commenting blaming the driver or my son it really gets on my nerves it was no ones fault i am just so grateful my son has lived to learn his lesson

  5. When helmets are the first thing authorities fixate on in incidents like this, people who place their trust them come to think that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity, as any other activity that requires specialist protective gear. Once it’s happened, of course you can say the boy, who’s thankfully seems to be ok, should have been wearing a helmet. If you’re going to get hit by a car, you should be wearing a helmet. And if somebody tells me I’m going to be hit by a car, the safest precaution seems to be to not cycle altogether, so is this proportionate? Perhaps we should tell them it’s in case they fall off, since that’s more likely, and it’s what they’re built for?

    Anywhere where a majority of parents feel it’s safe for children to cycle, helmets are a non-issue. We’re a long way off that, but for now due to the message that well-meaning police, doctors and others put out, we have a much larger obesity crisis than we could have with children being so inactive. And perhaps not ambulance service but your colleagues will deal with chronic respiratory diseases, and the air quality is surely affected when over a fifth of motor traffic at peak times is the school run. I would implore you to think more deeply about the impact of what you say, we often think in terms of ‘if it saves one life,’ well what if it curtails many others?

    I applaud you for reading some of these comments and responding, whilst I disagree, others who I do agree with are not very nice about it.

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