Bicycle Helmet Use
The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle a crash is a helmet. Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of TBI by as much as 88 percent. It is estimated that 75 percent of head injuries that are fatal among child bicyclists 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, and between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries annually. If 85 percent of all child cyclists wore helmets every time they rode bikes for one year, the lifetime medical cost savings could total between $134 million and $174 million.
Correct fit and proper positioning are essential to the effectiveness of bike helmets at reducing injury. Children whose helmets fit poorly are at twice the risk of head injury in a crash compared with children whose helmet fit is excellent. Unfortunately, fewer than half (41 percent) of kids ages 5 to 14 wear helmets when participating in wheeled activities, and more than a third (35 percent) of children who use helmets wear them improperly. Child helmet ownership and use increases with parent income and education levels, yet decreases with the child’s age. 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. Children are more likely to wear a bicycle helmet if riding with others (peers or adults) who are also wearing one.
Twenty states, the District of Columbia and more than 140 localities have enacted some form of bicycle helmet legislation. Thirteen of these twenty laws cover children ages 15 and under. Seven states and Washington, D.C., now require children to wear a helmet while participating in other wheeled sports (e.g., scooters, inline skates, skateboards).
National Safety Council
Do You Know the Correct Way to Wear a Helmet?
Consumer Product Safety Commission