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Helmet laws: Spain

Introduction and scope

The Spanish helmet law came into effect from 23rd January 2004. It applies to bicycle riders of all ages. However it does not apply: to cyclists riding in towns and cities; during periods of extreme heat; when riding up steep hills; or to professional cyclists.

A fine of up to EUR90 can be imposed for not wearing a helmet.

In October 2010 the City of Madrid required passengers travelling in bike trailers to wear a helmet.

Compliance and enforcement

In 2003, pre-law, 19% of cyclists wore helmets. In early 2005, helmet use remained unusual in towns but was about 75% among sports cyclists outside towns.

Enforcement is generally very lax. It is not a priority for the Guardia Civil, who alone have responsibility for enforcement.

Effect on casualties

Prior to legislation, an in-depth study of non-fatal cycle accidents by the Spanish Directorate of Traffic (Min Int, 1999) concluded that no statistically relevant positive effects of helmet wearing could be detected. A subsequent study (Claret et al, 2003) concluded that there was a benefit from helmet use, but this has been criticised for containing no medical data, not distinguishing between minor and serious head injuries and not considering other possible reasons for falling casualties.

Post-law data is not yet available.

Effect on cycle use

Cycle use in Spain is low, at around 0.7% of trips prior to legislation. No data is yet available to show the effect of the helmet law.

Benefit-cost

No data available.

References

Claret et al, 2003

Claret PL, del Castillo JDL, Moleon JJJ, Martin MG, Cavaillas AB, Vargas RG, 2003. Valoración del efecto del uso de casco en los ciclistas sobre el riesgo de sufrir lesiones craneales y de morir en España, entre 1990 y 1999. Medicina Clinica 2003; 120(30: 85-88.

Min Int, 1999

Estudio sobre accidentes de ciclistas en carretera. Ministerio del Interior, Spain .1999.

See also