The Eye Opening Statistics:
A survey commissioned just this year showed that almost 76% of bike riders either don't wear or don't even own a helmet. While those surveyed ranged in age, other opinion polls have shown that adults wear helmets more frequently than children.
22% Of those who don't wear a helmet, don't ever think of wearing one.
21% Think they don't need one. Children believe they are invincible. Your children should be taught early on that accidents could happen to even the best of riders. Teach them that accidents can happen to anyone at anytime.
19% Say they seldom ride in traffic, ergo incorrectly believing they do not need a helmet. FYI, our children let their guard down when they in their own neighborhood. Most bicycle accidents happen close to home on quiet streets.
17% Never bothered to buy a helmet - which means they never had a parent buy them one!
16% Say they'll buy a helmet "later."
9% Think helmets will be uncomfortable. In reality they are cool, lightweight rigid styrofoam covered with crash-tested thin, lightweight plastic.
7% Believe helmets are too expensive. Many police departments and other organizations routinely give helmets away for free. Call your local police department and talk with someone in the public safety department to find out about giveaways.
5% Say helmets are unattractive. Untrue. Not only do they come in a fabulous array of colors and styles, many have some of your child's favorite characters on them.
If the Helmet Fits, Make Sure She Wears It
The guidelines for making sure your child's helmet fits properly are simple and few:
There is to be no more than a two-finger space between the eyebrow and the brow of the helmet. It's the front lobes of your child's head that the helmet most needs to protect.
It is to be worn straight down over the forehead, not back on the head leaving the forehead exposed.
The helmet should not wiggle from side to side. It should fit snugly.
The V's of the side straps should fit right below the earlobes.
You should be able to fit a finger in between the strap and your child's chin, not anymore than that.
Look for the acronyms of SNELL and ANSI to make sure your child's helmet has met all standards.
Common Sense and the Law
Make sure you also wear a helmet. While the laws in most states require helmets up until only age 18, your good example can encourage your child to wear his helmet even as an adult.
In many jurisdictions, fines are given when helmets are not worn. The parent often has to pay the fine; if your child is older and has a properly fitting helmet you have purchased for him, make sure he pays you back. Fines start at $25 and go up from there.
Helmets belong on your child from his very first bike ride in a tandem trailer onto adulthood. Special helmets are sold for infants and toddlers. If you have trouble finding one in your local discount chain, call a bike store.
Get in touch with your local police department safety officer to organize a Helmet Inspection Day in your neighborhood, school or church.
In a later column, we will discuss the ins and outs of bike, scooter and inline skate safety.
Take your child with you when you buy the helmet so he can choose the colors and characters he likes best. He'll be more likely to want to wear it if he chose it.