May 11, 2004


CNN has a thing today about kids and bike helmets. I have a few things to say, but CNN can have its say first.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Fewer than half of all U.S. children wear helmets while biking, skating and riding scooters, a survey by safety researchers said Tuesday.

Many children observed in the survey who were wearing helmets were wearing them improperly, leaving them vulnerable to head injury, the nonprofit Safe Kids campaign found.

The researchers found that helmet use was lowest on residential streets, although that is where most accidents occur because that is where children play most frequently. Only 33 percent of children watched on residential streets were using helmets, the campaign said.

But in states with mandatory helmet laws, 45 percent of child bikers were seen wearing helmets, as opposed to 39 percent in states with no helmet laws.
Somebody want to find the main idea for me? <sarcasm>Make a law!</sarcasm>

First, what's the purpose of the helmet? No, first, did you know that you should only "use" a helmet once? Yes, really. If you smash your noggin while wearing the helmet, that helmet's fin for the scrap heap. Or it should be. Back on track. What's the purpose of a helmet? Does kid riding fall under that purpose?

I rode a lot as a child. I never, and I mean NEVER, wore a helmet. On my kid bike and my sportin' 3 speed that I had in junior high, I'm pretty sure I never exceeded 12 mph, too. If a kid's clipped in, that kid should be serious enough to wear a helmet. If not, guess what...kid's probably smart enough and possess enough reaction time to land on a different body part.

Adults need helmets more than kids, and many organized rides require them so as to reduce liability. And this is smart. If I'm careening down a poorly paved road at 30 mph, I need a helmet. It's usually a sign of a serious cyclist; you know, a sign that the person obeys traffic laws and doesn't run over kids pedalling on the sidewalk...because that cyclist is ON THE ROAD.

Okay, that turned into a rant. Yes, CNN, the brain is fragile. Kids, if you're planning to do some serious riding, you'd be wise to acclimate yourselves to bicycle helmets. CNN, shhhhhh. Can't you focus on slamming Big Food or something? Tomorrow? Ok.


Posted by hln at May 11, 2004 10:02 PM | Cycling | TrackBack

First - the 6% discrepancy is easily within the range of random statistical variation (assuming +/- 4% on the surveys for states with helmet laws, plus another +/- 4% for the "without" states, and that variation is fairly typical for surveys)

Second - When I used to bike a lot (late 80's I was in the Navy & didn't own a car), I actually intended to go out & buy a bike helmet once. Since I couldn't find one that wasn't utterly dorky-looking, I decided to take my chances. I got my share of bumps, bruises, cuts & scrapes, but never whacked my melon.

Third - Why don't we pass a law making helmets, pads, and kevlar body armor mandatory for everyone at all times? You can't tell me that it wouldn't make us all safer.

Posted by: Harvey at May 12, 2004 01:17 PM

Gads - guess they've never been to my neighborhood! The kids here are ALL wearing helmets, knee and elbow pads - I swear to God if they fall they bounce off all that crap. There is no fun in playing anymore. Everyone is so scared a kid might get hurt. And then they wonder why kids are fat - they don't LET them move lest they hurt themselves!!!

And yes I raised 2 kids - no they didn't do helmets. Helmets should be saved for things like bike tricks (we've got a bike/rollerblade park where kids can do all that junk). One of these days we'll have to wear helmets in the car and in the house in case we fall... GRRRR!!!

Posted by: Teresa at May 12, 2004 06:30 PM

I look at it a different way (surprise!)
I've been adament that my niece and nephews wear helmets every time they ride anything remotely resembling a bike, including those four-wheel, low-to-the-ground toddler toys. Why? To get them firmly in the habit of wearing a helmet when they ride. 134 dead kids a year is such a minor statistic, unless one of those kids turns out to be in my family. If ten bucks for a helmet and ten seconds to strap it on can mitigate that risk, I find it very worth it.

Posted by: Nic at May 12, 2004 08:01 PM