‘Helmet saved my life, now I want to save pupils’ lives’

thisisoxfordshire: David Elliott-Smith is speaking to children about why they should wear helmets. Picture: OX68389 Simon Williams Buy this photo David Elliott-Smith is speaking to children about why they should wear helmets. Picture: OX68389 Simon Williams

AFTER David Elliott-Smith cycled headfirst into a stationary lorry in Kidlington at 25 miles an hour, a doctor told him it was a “miracle” he was still alive.

Now he wants to teach primary schoolchildren about the importance of bike safety and wearing a helmet.

The 52-year-old has fully recovered from his accident outside The Jolly Boatman Pub in July 2008, which he admits was “completely my own fault”.

And he credits his helmet for saving his life.

He gives talks at schools around Bicester and wants to speak in classrooms all over Oxfordshire in the hope of saving other lives, too.

Mr Elliott-Smith started by giving a talk to his six-year-old son Rhys’ class at Bure Park Primary.

The Bure Park resident said: “I always wear the same clothes I was wearing when I had the accident and show them pictures of me lying on the road after the accident.

“I want to get across to the children that bodies can be broken.

“My aim is to go to as many schools as possible.

“If it makes them ask their parents for a cycle helmet, I consider it a success as far as I am concerned.

“If it stops them getting hurt then that is my job done.”

Incredibly, apart from being “black and blue” with bruises, he did not break a single bone in his body in the crash and was released from the John Radcliffe Hospital the same day.

The impact of his bike hitting the lorry snapped his handle bars and he could see the imprint of his helmet on his face for weeks.

He said: “The doctor could not understand it.

“His only explanation was that I didn’t see it and had not tensed up so I was like a slab of jelly. It was very painful though.”

Mr Elliott-Smith has since spoken at Langford village primary and Fringford village primary, both near Bicester. He said: “The pupils and teachers always ask really interesting questions. The talks have gone really, really well.”

  • To contact him email smiffyman@btinternet.com

Comments (16)

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12:31pm Fri 11 Jul 14

xenarthra says...

And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?
And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done? xenarthra
  • Score: 15

12:41pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Quentin Walker says...

You don't need a helmet if you look where you're going...
You don't need a helmet if you look where you're going... Quentin Walker
  • Score: 19

1:08pm Fri 11 Jul 14

trash_man says...

So we've got some bloke teaching kids about safety, based not on any proven data but on anecdotal evidence based on his own personal crash. The soft-shell helmet he was wearing, would at best, have made the energy of a 25mph crash, at best the energy of a 22 - 23mph crash without a helmet. The miracle is he survived - not that a helmet assisted in this. There is no evidence to suggest helmets are effective at speeds of over around 8 - 12 mph involving the rider falling (with no other vehicles involved). If this were my child being given this advise I would complain to the school. This placebo that is the soft-shell bike helmet only serves to apply downward pressure on cycling numbers, coupled with hi-viz etc by making cycling look more dangerous than it is. You are more likely to suffer a serious head injury as a pedestrian or in a car than on a bike. Do we see the same people coming into schools demanding our children wear walking helmets and car helmets? Why not?

If the chap was looking where he was going there wouldn't have been a problem here. Ocam's razor really. Look where you're going. Don't turn cycling into an equipment activity.

If you don't believe me, go and look up web sites dedicated to information such as this, i.e. cyclehelmets dot org etc. Loads of evidence out there debunking these helmet myths.
So we've got some bloke teaching kids about safety, based not on any proven data but on anecdotal evidence based on his own personal crash. The soft-shell helmet he was wearing, would at best, have made the energy of a 25mph crash, at best the energy of a 22 - 23mph crash without a helmet. The miracle is he survived - not that a helmet assisted in this. There is no evidence to suggest helmets are effective at speeds of over around 8 - 12 mph involving the rider falling (with no other vehicles involved). If this were my child being given this advise I would complain to the school. This placebo that is the soft-shell bike helmet only serves to apply downward pressure on cycling numbers, coupled with hi-viz etc by making cycling look more dangerous than it is. You are more likely to suffer a serious head injury as a pedestrian or in a car than on a bike. Do we see the same people coming into schools demanding our children wear walking helmets and car helmets? Why not? If the chap was looking where he was going there wouldn't have been a problem here. Ocam's razor really. Look where you're going. Don't turn cycling into an equipment activity. If you don't believe me, go and look up web sites dedicated to information such as this, i.e. cyclehelmets dot org etc. Loads of evidence out there debunking these helmet myths. trash_man
  • Score: 17

1:20pm Fri 11 Jul 14

mytaxes says...

xenarthra wrote:
And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?
They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling.
[quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?[/p][/quote]They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling. mytaxes
  • Score: 3

1:25pm Fri 11 Jul 14

jonny1976 says...

did anyone else laugh when the read this story, lorries are not exactly small
did anyone else laugh when the read this story, lorries are not exactly small jonny1976
  • Score: 11

1:26pm Fri 11 Jul 14

trash_man says...

mytaxes wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?
They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling.
I slipped on the ice once while walking. Smashed my head open on metal bars of a gate then on stone slab paving. Stitches, concussion, dangerous. Walking helmet would have helped me, definitely. Walking helmets for all school kids please. (get's coat and finds nearest school to lecture).
[quote][p][bold]mytaxes[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?[/p][/quote]They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling.[/p][/quote]I slipped on the ice once while walking. Smashed my head open on metal bars of a gate then on stone slab paving. Stitches, concussion, dangerous. Walking helmet would have helped me, definitely. Walking helmets for all school kids please. (get's coat and finds nearest school to lecture). trash_man
  • Score: 14

1:27pm Fri 11 Jul 14

cubist says...

i would suggest that most school kids ride around 8-12 mph on the way to school, so helmets may be a good idea.
i would suggest that most school kids ride around 8-12 mph on the way to school, so helmets may be a good idea. cubist
  • Score: 3

1:48pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Paul M says...

Perhaps Mr Elliott-Smith should take up shooting, as he clearly could hit a barn door at five yards.

Honestly, it's not as if it was a small target, is it? Perhaps "spectacles would have saved my life", or "riding facing front would have saved my life" or "riding with my eyes open would have saved my life"?
Perhaps Mr Elliott-Smith should take up shooting, as he clearly could hit a barn door at five yards. Honestly, it's not as if it was a small target, is it? Perhaps "spectacles would have saved my life", or "riding facing front would have saved my life" or "riding with my eyes open would have saved my life"? Paul M
  • Score: 7

2:17pm Fri 11 Jul 14

TigerTigerBurningBright says...

Rode into a stationary lorry at 25mph!!

How about anticipation, watching the road ahead, riding at an appropriate speed, instead of spouting off about magic hats.
Rode into a stationary lorry at 25mph!! How about anticipation, watching the road ahead, riding at an appropriate speed, instead of spouting off about magic hats. TigerTigerBurningBright
  • Score: 8

5:35pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Grizzerly says...

Perhaps, if he had not worn a helmet, he would have been more careful about looking where he was going. The lesson here should be:
"Don't wear a helmet, it makes you over confident and careless. Wearing a helmet nearly killed this chap.".
Perhaps, if he had not worn a helmet, he would have been more careful about looking where he was going. The lesson here should be: "Don't wear a helmet, it makes you over confident and careless. Wearing a helmet nearly killed this chap.". Grizzerly
  • Score: 5

7:59pm Fri 11 Jul 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

No mention of what happened to his guide dog........
No mention of what happened to his guide dog........ Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 3

10:18pm Fri 11 Jul 14

EMBOX2 says...

...and if he was caught doing 25mph in Oxford, would he get a fine from a court? Nope!
...and if he was caught doing 25mph in Oxford, would he get a fine from a court? Nope! EMBOX2
  • Score: -2

4:55am Sat 12 Jul 14

The New Private Eye says...

trash_man wrote:
So we've got some bloke teaching kids about safety, based not on any proven data but on anecdotal evidence based on his own personal crash. The soft-shell helmet he was wearing, would at best, have made the energy of a 25mph crash, at best the energy of a 22 - 23mph crash without a helmet. The miracle is he survived - not that a helmet assisted in this. There is no evidence to suggest helmets are effective at speeds of over around 8 - 12 mph involving the rider falling (with no other vehicles involved). If this were my child being given this advise I would complain to the school. This placebo that is the soft-shell bike helmet only serves to apply downward pressure on cycling numbers, coupled with hi-viz etc by making cycling look more dangerous than it is. You are more likely to suffer a serious head injury as a pedestrian or in a car than on a bike. Do we see the same people coming into schools demanding our children wear walking helmets and car helmets? Why not?

If the chap was looking where he was going there wouldn't have been a problem here. Ocam's razor really. Look where you're going. Don't turn cycling into an equipment activity.

If you don't believe me, go and look up web sites dedicated to information such as this, i.e. cyclehelmets dot org etc. Loads of evidence out there debunking these helmet myths.
Get a life, and a helmet, it may save your life as it did to this man, but then again, carry on as you are and do us all a favor.
[quote][p][bold]trash_man[/bold] wrote: So we've got some bloke teaching kids about safety, based not on any proven data but on anecdotal evidence based on his own personal crash. The soft-shell helmet he was wearing, would at best, have made the energy of a 25mph crash, at best the energy of a 22 - 23mph crash without a helmet. The miracle is he survived - not that a helmet assisted in this. There is no evidence to suggest helmets are effective at speeds of over around 8 - 12 mph involving the rider falling (with no other vehicles involved). If this were my child being given this advise I would complain to the school. This placebo that is the soft-shell bike helmet only serves to apply downward pressure on cycling numbers, coupled with hi-viz etc by making cycling look more dangerous than it is. You are more likely to suffer a serious head injury as a pedestrian or in a car than on a bike. Do we see the same people coming into schools demanding our children wear walking helmets and car helmets? Why not? If the chap was looking where he was going there wouldn't have been a problem here. Ocam's razor really. Look where you're going. Don't turn cycling into an equipment activity. If you don't believe me, go and look up web sites dedicated to information such as this, i.e. cyclehelmets dot org etc. Loads of evidence out there debunking these helmet myths.[/p][/quote]Get a life, and a helmet, it may save your life as it did to this man, but then again, carry on as you are and do us all a favor. The New Private Eye
  • Score: -6

9:40am Sat 12 Jul 14

Geoff Roberts says...

mytaxes wrote:
xenarthra wrote:
And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?
They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling.
Not when our communities have been redesigned so that you can't realistically walk to school. Then there's the danger of walking! Of which there are many, including getting hit by a cyclist or a car on the pavement.
[quote][p][bold]mytaxes[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]xenarthra[/bold] wrote: And what if this makes kids and their parents perceive cycling to be far more dangerous than it is, so that they travel by car and die from obesity instead. Job done?[/p][/quote]They don't have to travel by car they can walk it's excellent for keeping fit. Lots of ways to keep healthy not just cycling.[/p][/quote]Not when our communities have been redesigned so that you can't realistically walk to school. Then there's the danger of walking! Of which there are many, including getting hit by a cyclist or a car on the pavement. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 2

10:04am Sat 12 Jul 14

Geoff Roberts says...

"AFTER David Elliott-Smith cycled headfirst into a stationery lorry in Kidlington at 25 miles an hour, a doctor told him it was a “miracle” he was still alive but it's likely that his head was protected by several wads of post it notes.

Mr. Elliott-Smith then underwent a 5 hour operation but because he couldn't be moved, Doctors made use of a staple gun, some sellotape and a hole punch at the scene where they removed a pack of cheap biros from his brain, one of which had pierced his frontal lobe. As a result of the damage Mr. Elliot-Smith has now lost his fear of pink highlighters which previously caused him to panic when seeing one. Police believe it may have been Mr. Elliot Smith's fear of pink highlighters that caused the accident as the lorry he hit had a giant one on the side of it.

The impact of his bike hitting the lorry snapped his handle bars and he could see the imprint of an inkjet cartridge on his face for weeks.

The Bure Park resident said: “I always wear the same clothes I was wearing when I had the accident, they are getting a bit smelly now though."

“I want to get across to the children that stationery is nothing to be scared of, just as long as you treat it with respect and use it wisely. So, no putting fingers in pencil sharpeners or trying to glue your friends hands to his face. That glue that smells like fish should be kept locked up in a safe place though, in accordance with the rules around control of substances hazardous to health."
"AFTER David Elliott-Smith cycled headfirst into a stationery lorry in Kidlington at 25 miles an hour, a doctor told him it was a “miracle” he was still alive but it's likely that his head was protected by several wads of post it notes. Mr. Elliott-Smith then underwent a 5 hour operation but because he couldn't be moved, Doctors made use of a staple gun, some sellotape and a hole punch at the scene where they removed a pack of cheap biros from his brain, one of which had pierced his frontal lobe. As a result of the damage Mr. Elliot-Smith has now lost his fear of pink highlighters which previously caused him to panic when seeing one. Police believe it may have been Mr. Elliot Smith's fear of pink highlighters that caused the accident as the lorry he hit had a giant one on the side of it. The impact of his bike hitting the lorry snapped his handle bars and he could see the imprint of an inkjet cartridge on his face for weeks. The Bure Park resident said: “I always wear the same clothes I was wearing when I had the accident, they are getting a bit smelly now though." “I want to get across to the children that stationery is nothing to be scared of, just as long as you treat it with respect and use it wisely. So, no putting fingers in pencil sharpeners or trying to glue your friends hands to his face. That glue that smells like fish should be kept locked up in a safe place though, in accordance with the rules around control of substances hazardous to health." Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 1

11:06am Sat 12 Jul 14

burtthebike says...

With all due respect to Mr Elliot Smith, this is pure unadulterated propaganda, and he really shouldn't be going to schools indoctrinating impressionable children.

Helmet propaganda like this has two effects; fewer cyclists and obscene profits for those making and selling helmets, there is no safety benefit. Regular cyclists live longer, and are fitter, healthier and slimmer than general, so those children deterred by his misinformed nonsense will get sicker quicker and die earlier. In the middle of an obesity epideminc, largely caused by lack of exercise, helmet promotions like this are literally insane.

As this chap has so brilliantly demonstrated, the only thing a helmet gives you is a false sense of security.

Will these children, misled by him, be given the facts i.e. that helmets don't actually work? If not, this is quite deliberate brain-washing of our youth, and the educational authorities should take immediate action and ban this man from peddling his misguided and very damaging ideas.
With all due respect to Mr Elliot Smith, this is pure unadulterated propaganda, and he really shouldn't be going to schools indoctrinating impressionable children. Helmet propaganda like this has two effects; fewer cyclists and obscene profits for those making and selling helmets, there is no safety benefit. Regular cyclists live longer, and are fitter, healthier and slimmer than general, so those children deterred by his misinformed nonsense will get sicker quicker and die earlier. In the middle of an obesity epideminc, largely caused by lack of exercise, helmet promotions like this are literally insane. As this chap has so brilliantly demonstrated, the only thing a helmet gives you is a false sense of security. Will these children, misled by him, be given the facts i.e. that helmets don't actually work? If not, this is quite deliberate brain-washing of our youth, and the educational authorities should take immediate action and ban this man from peddling his misguided and very damaging ideas. burtthebike
  • Score: 7
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