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Policy statement

Helmet laws: Nova Scotia

Introduction and scope

The Nova Scotia helmet law came into effect from July 1997 and was enforced from 1st September 1997. It covers cyclists of all ages.

The minimum penalty for an offence against the law is CAD25. Parents are responsible for offences committed by children under 16 years if aware that the child did not wear a helmet. In addition, a peace officer may seize and detain for 30 days the bicycle of a person not wearing a helmet.

On 12 January 2007, the law was extended to include skateboarders and in-line skaters and to apply off-road as well as on-road.

Compliance and enforcement

The proportion of cyclists wearing helmets was as follows (LeBlanc, Beattie and Culligan, 2002):

Helmet use 1995-96 1997 1998-99
Children 49% 95% 84%
Adolescents 29% 68% 70%
Adults 36% 75% 86%

Effect on casualties

Injuries to cyclists based on data at the IWK Health Centre, Halifax changed thus (LeBlanc, Beattie and Culligan, 2002):

1995-96 1997 1998-99
All injuries 416 222 443
Head injuries 15 3 7

Relative to cycle use (see below), the law did not change the number of head injuries but the total number of cycling injuries doubled.

Effect on cycle use

Post-law cycle use fell by 40% to 60%, with the largest decrease among teenagers. The rise in the number of people wearing helmets was less than the fall in cyclists in the two years following the law (Chipman, 2002).

1995-96 1997 1998-99
Average cyclists per day, Halifax 88 34 52
% child cyclists 8.1% 6.1% 3.7%

Cost benefit

No data available.


Chipman, 2002

Chipman ML, 2002. Hats off (or not?) to helmet legislation. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2002 Mar 5;166(5):602.

LeBlanc, Beattie and Culligan, 2002

LeBlanc JC, Beattie TL, Culligan C, 2002. Effect of legislation on the use of bicycle helmets. Canadian Medical Association Journal CMAJ 2002;166(5): p592-5.