Wearing a helmet is a lot like wearing a seatbelt. It can be inconvenient and even uncomfortable, especially to adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 800 cyclists were killed and half a million had injuries severe enough to go to the emergency room in 2010. Fortunately, according to the IIHS, helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, but Safe Kids USA estimates that less than half of children 14 and under even wear a helmet.
Bicycle related head injuries send more people to the emergency room than any other sport, more than football, baseball and softball combined! And it’s not just kids being injured. The IIHS states, “Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets.”
So, yes, make sure your kids wear a good helmet and make sure it fits them. And the same goes for football, baseball, softball and skateboards. The NHTSA has a great page on bicycle safety education with tips and facts. Safe Kids USA has an excellent video on helmet fit for kids, but it applies to adults as well:
Take it from me, the cost of NOT wearing a helmet can be unimaginable. Based on the statistics, it is just as important to wear one yourself! This not only sets a good example, but adults in their 40s and 50s are most at risk of dying from head injuries sustained in a bicycle crash.
I’m a survivor of a life threatening sports-related head injury. When I was 10 years old, I was struck by a thrown baseball that hit me above the eye while running to first base in a back yard game. There was literally a big dent in my head, and the depressed skull fracture required immediate surgery. I was told that had it struck me an inch in any other direction, I’d probably have died. A batting helmet would have prevented the injury and the long scar that remains on my forehead, too. So, it’s not too hard for me to imagine what could happen to my 10-year old son or to me if we don’t wear our bike helmets.
In our next segment, I’ll review a few reasonably priced bike helmets that provide good protection for adults and older kids. There are also some new options in helmets that may help prevent concussions as well as other traumatic brain injuries.