Bike Helmet Safety

Published Feb 23, 2015

I woke up early this morning thinking about the group of adolescents I watched at twilight last night zooming down the road on their bicycles.  Three of the children had bicycle helmets on, but unbuckled, two had no helmets and one lonely rider had his helmet secured.  I had an urge to shout from my car, “Buckle your helmet”.

It has driven me crazy to watch all the kids either without helmets or unbuckled helmets over these past few years.  I would watch a police car go by and hope the officer would come out of his car and stop these kids.

What kind of message are we giving our kids if me make a law and then watch them break it without doing anything.  It is incredibly destructive to set up something for a child’s safety and then not enforce it.

Do we enforce laws on underage drinking or drug use?  Kids need to know adults are in charge and consistent for a reason.  Please the moment you begin taking your toddler in a bike carrier, make wearing a helmet mandatory.

IT IS ALSO IMPERATIVE THAT PARENTS WEAR HELMETS.  WHAT GOOD IS A PARENT WITH AN EXTENSIVE HEAD INJURY THAT IS COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE.  Please take a few minutes to think about this the next time you go out to bike.  A helmet is one of the cheapest and best safety precautions you can use.

There is a reason to wear a bicycle helmet.  Here are just a few from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission prove bike helmet safety is crucial:

  • Wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.
  • Riding without a bicycle helmet significantly increases the risk of sustaining a head injury in the event of a crash. Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.
  • Children ages 10 to 14 are at greater risk for traumatic brain injury from a bicycle-related crash compared with younger children, most likely because helmet use declines as children age. Helmet use is lowest (for all ages) among children ages 11 to 14 (11 percent).
  • Correct fit and proper positioning are essential to the effectiveness of bike helmets at reducing injury. One study found that children whose helmets fit poorly are at twice the risk of head injury in a crash compared with children whose helmet fit is excellent. In addition, children who wear their helmets tipped back on their heads have a 52 percent greater risk of head injury than those who wear their helmets centered on their heads.
  • Children ages 14 and under are five times more likely to be injured in a bicycle-related crash than older riders.
  • Males account for 82 percent of bicycle-related deaths and 70 percent of nonfatal injuries among children ages 14 and under. Children ages 10 to 14, especially males, have the highest death rate of all ages from bicycle-related head injury.

If these statistics are not enough to tell your child to buckle up and even make a trip to the bicycle store to make sure the helmet fits properly here are more statistics on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets.

Bicycle Helmet Effectiveness

  • Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Bicycle helmets have also been shown to offer substantial protection to the forehead and midface.
  • It is estimated that 75 percent of bicycle-related fatalities among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.
  • Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent between 135 and 155 deaths, between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries, and between 18,000 and 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.
  • Child helmet ownership and use increases with the parent’s income and education level, yet decreases with the child’s age. Children are more likely to wear a bicycle helmet if riding with others (peers or adults) who are also wearing one.In a national survey of children ages 8 to 12, 53 percent reported that a parental rule for helmet use would persuade them to wear a helmet, and 49 percent would wear a helmet if a state or community law required it.

I stopped a group of eight graders who rode down on our street the other day without helmets.  I asked a simple question, “Why Don’t You Wear Helmets?”  They honestly replied, “It doesn’t look cool.”  I respected their honesty even though I could not help but preach a bit, “Do you think a concussion or head injury would be cool?”


Pamela Worth is the owner of Tiny Treks: Healthy Habits of Healthy Families.

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