By Don Corson
In the years since I was a kid, the importance of bicycle helmet safety has become common knowledge. But even with that knowledge, many bicycle injuries still occur because kids don’t wear helmets. When I realized that a good helmet is sometimes financially out of reach for some families, our law firm teamed with local shop Bicycle Way of Life (BWL) to start the Brain Bucket Brigade. Every year, this program provides bike helmets to kids who might otherwise be unable to afford such a basic safety necessity.
But owning a helmet is only half the battle. When I ride, I often see people not wearing helmets, including children and teenagers. A good helmet is useless unless it’s attached to your head. Helmet designs and technology have dramatically improved over the years and have prevented a large number of brain injuries as a result.
A bicycle helmet, when worn properly, is the single most effective piece of equipment to reduce head injury in the event of a crash. The next step for our Brain Bucket Brigade is getting kids and parents to make wearing helmets a priority.
Why Don’t Kids Wear Helmets?
Herein lies the problem. According to a National Center for Injury Prevention and Control study from the Centers for Disease Control, only 48% of children ages 5-14 wear helmets when they ride. The study highlighted that older kids were much less likely to wear a helmet than their younger counterparts because it made them feel “geeky” or they thought it was uncomfortable. Out of 515,000 reported bicycle-related injuries in 2010 (the latest year available), about 26,000 were children or adolescents who suffered traumatic brain injuries requiring emergency medical attention.
What Can We Do to Help?
We need to encourage research into making helmets more effective, and pass laws requiring children to wear bicycle helmets. Currently, there is no federal law requiring bicycle helmets. And only 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring children under 17 to wear bicycle helmets. Fortunately, Oregon is one of them.
If you’d like to know more or to get involved in the Brain Bucket Brigade, contact us.