Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Consumer Product Safety Commission
Press Release

Summary: This is CPSC's 1995 attempt to use the death of Fabio Casartelli in the Tour de France to promote bicycle helmet use.


July 20, 1995

Release # 95-148

CONTACT: Kate Premo - (301) 504-0580 Ext. 1187


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Tuesday death of a Tour de France bicyclist is a tragic reminder that all cyclists should wear helmets no matter what their age or level of skill, according to Ann Brown, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"The rider killed Tuesday was an Olympic Champion and an outstanding professional rider," Brown said. "Yet he was not wearing a helmet and all his tremendous skill was not enough to protect him from falling. I want to urge all cyclists to learn from this tragedy and wear a helmet. It could save your life."

News reports said that Fabio Casartelli, 24, died when he fell on a steep curve during the descent from the Col De Portet d'Aspet in the Pyrenees. Casartelli was traveling nearly 55 miles per hour when his bicycle hit a concrete block and he was thrown to the pavement. He was pronounced dead a short while later. Casartelli was a member of the American team Motorola.

According to Brown, there were an estimated 600,000 bicycle-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 1994. About one-third of those injuries involved the head or face.

"The simple act of wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury to bicyclists by 85 percent," Brown said. "That alone should make anyone -- at any level -- think twice before getting on a bike without a helmet."

Brown reminded children and parents that a recent survey of children's attitudes about bicycle safety released by CPSC and the American Automobile Association revealed that, despite their awareness of the risks associated with not wearing a helmet, most of the children surveyed said they did not use a helmet when riding their bicycles.

"Each year about 300 children are killed and more than 400,000 children go to the hospital emergency room due to bicycle injuries," Brown said, adding that "Bicycle accidents are the leading cause of consumer product-related deaths among five- to fourteen-year-olds. That statistic is all the more powerful because many of these deaths could be prevented. Our message is simple: Wear a helmet."

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information via Internet gopher services at cpsc.gov or report product hazards to info@cpsc.gov.

072095,CPSC Urges All Bike Riders to Wear Helmets, Death Tour De France, Wear Helmets to Protect You

BHSI Note: The official Tour de France physician was quoted in newspaper accounts as saying that Casartelli would not have been saved by a helmet. The account offered no explanation for how he could be sure of that. The London Times had another story entirely, with the Swiss undertaker saying a helmet would have saved him. The Times account also offered no explanation for how he could be sure of that.