Health Fact Sheets
Helmet use in recreational activities, 2013-2014

Release date: May 20, 2016

In 2013-2014, the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) asked Canadians aged 12 and older about their use of helmets while participating in various physical activitiesNote 1. Over this time period, Canadians were more likely to always wear a helmet while snowboarding (67.5%) or skiing (68.6%) than when skateboardingNote 1, in-line skating or bicycling. Females were more likely than males to report always wearing a helmet for each of the five activities (Chart 1).

Percentage reporting always wearing a helmet - activity and sex

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Percentage reporting always wearing a helmet while bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, skiing, and snowboarding, by activity and sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2013-2014
Table summary
This table displays the data for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Activity (appearing as row headers), Males and Females (appearing as column headers).
ActivityChart - note 1 Males Females
Skateboarding 19.1 25.3Note *
In-line skating 28.3 32.5Note *
Bicycling 39.1 45.8Note *
Snowboarding 65.9 70.7Note *
Skiing 65.1 73.3Note *

Bicycle helmet use

In 2013-2014, more than 11.9 million Canadians aged 12 or older reported riding a bicycle in the previous 12 months. Of these, 42.0% always wore a helmet.

The percentage of Canadians that reported always wearing a bicycle helmet decreased after age 17, increasing again at age 20. For those aged 12 to 17, 35.0% of males and 40.5% of females always wore a helmet. This was significantly higher than those aged 18 to 19, where the percentage was only 18.1% of males and 23.8% of females. Regular helmet useNote 2 then increased with age for males between the ages of 20 and 64 and for females age 20 to 44. (Chart 2).

Percentage reporting they always wore a helmet - sex and age group

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Percentage reporting that they always wore a helmet when bicycling, by sex and age group, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2013-2014
Table summary
This table displays the data for Chart 2. Males and Females (appearing as column headers).
  Males Females
Total (12 or older) 39.1 45.8
12 to 17 35.0 40.5
18 to 19 18.1 23.8
20 to 34 31.2 39.1
35 to 44 42.4 52.8
45 to 64 46.7 52.8
65 or older 46.6 50.4

For many recreational activities, helmet use can save lives or reduce the risk of injuryNote 3. While 42.0% of Canadians reported that they always wore a helmet when bicycling in the previous 12 months, 39.4% (roughly 4.7 million people) reported that they never wore one over the same time period.

Education and income

Canadians with less than a post-secondary educationNote 4 were more likely to report that they never wore a bicycle helmet (44.2%) than those with a post-secondary education (35.7%). Helmet use also varied by income, as Canadian households that earned less than $20,000 per year were more likely to report never wearing a bicycle helmet (55.5%) than Canadian households that earned $80,000 per year or more (33.3%; Chart 3).

Percentage of bicycle helmet use

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Percentage of bicycle helmet use, always, most of the time, rarely and never, by total household income, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2013-2014
Table summary
This table displays the data for Chart 3. Always, Most of the Time, Rarely and Never (appearing as column headers).
  Always Most of the Time Rarely Never
No income to less than $20,000 27.1 7.5 9.9 55.5
$20,000 to $39,999 31.1 8.5 10.0 50.4
$40,000 to $59,999 37.1 7.9 10.9 44.1
$60,000 to $79,999 40.6 9.2 9.1 41.1
$80,000 or more 47.9 10.0 8.8 33.3

Bicycle helmet use (never) by province and territory

Several provinces mandate the use of bicycle helmets, but with differing age restrictionsNote 5. The percentage of Canadians who report never wearing a bicycle helmet varied depending on the province or territory of residence (Chart 4).

Percentage reporting that they never wear a bicycle helmet

Data table for Chart 4
Chart 4 Percentage reporting that they never wear a bicycle helmet, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2013-2014
Table summary
This table displays the data for Chart 4. Percent (appearing as column headers).
  percent
Total 39.4
Newfoundland and Labrador 34.2
Prince Edward Island 16.7
Nova Scotia 16.7
New Brunswick 28.9
Quebec 49.3
Ontario 41.7
Manitoba 51.2
Saskatchewan 57.2
Alberta 31.3
British Columbia 16.4
Yukon 25.5
Northwest Territories 49.1
Nunavut 81.0

The proportion of residents who reported they never wore a bicycle helmet was lower than the national average (39.4%) in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (34.2%)
  • Prince Edward Island (16.7%)
  • Nova Scotia (16.7%)
  • New Brunswick (28.9%)
  • Alberta (31.3%)
  • British Columbia (16.4%)
  • Yukon (25.5%)

The proportion of residents who reported they never wore a bicycle helmet was higher than the national average in:

  • Quebec (49.3%)
  • Ontario (41.7%)
  • Manitoba (51.2%)
  • Saskatchewan (57.2%)
  • Northwest Territories (49.1%)
  • Nunavut (81.0%)
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