Cycling safety: eighteen percent of children do not wear a bike helmet

An image to illustrate a child wearing a bike helmet for cycling
© iStock/yaoinlove

A National Poll on children’s health has focused on children’s street safety. It found that eighteen percent of children never wear a bike helmet while cycling.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan found that eighteen percent of children do not follow basic safety strategies when cycling, namely not wearing a bike helmet. The poll put forward suggestions for children’s street safety.

The dangers of cycling without a bike helmet

The poll co-director and Mott pediatrician Gary Freed, M.D., MPH, explained: “Helmets are vital to preventing head injuries in case a child falls or is struck by a car…It is very concerning that so many children ride bikes and other non-motorized wheeled vehicles without ever using helmets.”

The poll showed that:

• Older children (ages 11-13) are more likely to ride in a street (both with or without bike lanes) than younger chidren;
• More than 426,000 children visited an emergency department in 2015 due to a wheeled sports-related injury, (according to a 2017 report from the Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program).
• Eighteen percent of children never wear a bike helmet while cycling, according to their parents; and
• Fifty eight percent of children do not wear helmets on a skateboard, and sixty one percent skip wearing one while riding a scooter.

Wearing a bike helmet and other safety strategies for children

National poll focuses on children’s street smarts, including bike, skateboard, scooter and road safety.
© C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan

Freed adds: “Unfortunately, a substantial number of parents polled reported that their children do not consistently follow basic safety strategies on wheels. Our report suggests that families should take more precautions to ensure children are safe, including wearing helmets and understanding safety in the streets.”

Freed notes that just wearing a helmet is not enough to ensure safety. The helmet should fit snugly on the head and be used correctly.

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