Monday, April 12, 2010

Bike Helmet Laws and Why Kids Hate to Wear Bike Helmets

Here we go again…another Spring and another battle with my kids to wear bike helmets. While my oldest two are in college where I can’t nag them or keep tabs, my 16 year old is still living with me. He swears he’s the only kid he knows who has to wear a helmet and he admits that he hardly rides his bike because he hates to be embarrassed by the helmet.

What I don’t understand is why I’m the only mother in town who makes her kids wear a helmet. If they were all wearing them, they wouldn’t hate them. They only refuse because it falls so low on the “cool meter” that it’s completely embarrassing.

Most states enforce bike helmet laws for kids under 14 years old, but not for teenagers. Check out for the law in your state. Yet, to me, every bike rider should wear a helmet and age shouldn’t matter. I know several adults who have had biking accidents. Fortunately, by the time we’re adults we don’t care how cool we look, just how safe we are.

My kids were never allowed to ride without a helmet at any age, a family rule that caused much fighting during their formative teenage years. My one son was even pulled over by the police on several occasions, and rewarded with a coupon for a free ice cream cone because he was wearing a helmet. How devastating for a 14 year old! His friends didn't have to wear a helmet and he was mortified to be the only one who did.

Here are a few statistics from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:
The "typical" bicyclist killed on our roads is a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car.

About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and 27,000 have injuries serious enough to be hospitalized.

Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.

If your child learns to ride a bike and part of that lesson includes the fact that she must wear a helmet, she will recognize that this is part of bike riding forever. Being cool is not nearly enough of a trade-off compared to the risks of not wearing a helmet.

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