Bicycle Helmet Laws For Kids Effective But Not Yet the Norm
ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Studies have
shown wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle reduces one’s risk of
death by more than 50 percent, yet every three days, a child in the
United States is killed while riding a bicycle, and every day at least
100 children are treated in emergency rooms due to bicycle-related head
A report released today by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott
Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health reveals that in
areas where no bicycle helmet laws exist, nearly one-half of children,
ages 4-17, never wear a helmet.
“These statistics underscore the importance of helmet laws to help
prevent death and injury from children not wearing helmets while riding
their bikes,” says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the National Poll
on Children’s Health. “Yet only twenty one states have helmet use laws
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
indicate universal bicycle helmet use by children, ages 4-15, would
prevent about 40,000 head injuries and about 50,000 scalp and face
injuries every year.
While the poll shows helmet use is better in areas where helmet laws
exist (54 percent of parents report their children always wear a helmet
while riding a bike), the poll also measured adults’ awareness of
helmet laws in their communities and whether or not they would support
new laws if none existed.
Forty-one percent of parents said they were unsure about helmet use
laws in their communities. Overall, 86 percent of respondents would
support helmet laws for children in their communities.
The poll also shows that other barriers to helmet use exist for some
parents whether or not laws exist in their areas. Among parents who
report their child never wears a helmet, 32 percent believe they are
too expensive. One in two children in the lowest income families making
less than $30,000 per year never wear a helmet.
As children age, self concept and image may play a role in their
decisions about whether or not they will wear a helmet. Among children
who never use helmets, 59 percent of parents report that their children
do not like wearing helmets.
“Wearing a bicycle helmet is essentially a health behavior,” Davis
says. “It is not yet a fashion statement. For many kids — especially
older kids — there is a tension between this healthy behavior and
being seen as cool or acceptable by their peers. There is a challenge
here for health care providers and public health officials to
communicate that wearing a helmet is actually the cool thing to do
besides being the healthy thing to do.”
The poll also finds:
– 78 percent of parents report children ages 4-17 ride bicycles.
– 27 percent never wear their helmets while riding their bikes.
– Among children ages 4-11, 53 percent always wear helmet while
riding bikes, while only 29 percent of children ages 12-17 always wear
helmets while riding bikes.
– In states and communities that have bicycle laws, 54 percent of
children 14-17 always wear a helmet, while only 24 percent of children
always wear a helmet in places without a bicycle helmet law for
“To try to increase helmet use across the country, there are at
least three ways we can proceed. One way is to pass more helmet laws,”
Davis says. “There is also a group of parents out there who really want
their children to wear helmets but can’t afford them. We should be
better at sharing information about the very successful state and local
programs that provide free or cheap helmets for kids. The third
opportunity here is to change how families view helmets in terms of how
important it is to use them regularly. That is going to be perhaps the
toughest because it involves communicating the benefits of the health
behavior and really trying to make a longstanding difference in the
attitudes of parents and in the communities that may not yet be on
board with the use of bicycle helmets.”
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Bicycle Helmet Use Laws:
Cyclist safety facts: www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810986.pdf
American College of Emergency Physicians
Bicycle-Related Injuries Among Children and Adolescents in the United States
Methodology: For its report, the National Poll on Children’s Health
used data from a national online survey conducted in January 2009 in
collaboration with Knowledge Networks, Inc. The survey was administered
to a random sample of 2,125 adults, ages 18 and older, who are a part
of Knowledge Network’s online KnowledgePanel(R). The sample was
subsequently weighted to reflect U.S. population figures from the U.S.
Census Bureau. About three-fourths of the sample included households
with children. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1 to 9
percentage points. For results based on subgroups, the margin of error
To learn more about Knowledge Networks, visit www.knowledgenetworks.com.
Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on
Children’s Health — funded by the Department of Pediatrics and
Communicable Diseases and part of the CHEAR Unit at the U-M Health
System — is designed to measure major health care issues and trends
for U.S. children.
This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise(TM). For more information, visit http://www.newswise.com/.
Source: University of Michigan Health System
CONTACT: Jessica Soulliere of University of Michigan Health System,