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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Bicycle Helmet Safety


As the weather gets warn, both young and old will be getting bikes out of storage;  dusting them off; pumping up tires; and lubricating chains.  Bicycles are environmentally clean and an enjoyable form of exercise; they can be used for transportation or recreation.  However bicycles are not without risk.  According to a position statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics, (February of 2007), there were approximately 430,000 Emergency Room visits for children under 21 due to bicycle accidents in 1998.  The statement also indicates in 1998 an estimated 23,000 children under 21 sustained head injuries from bike accidents and another 275 children under the age of 21 died in bike accidents.

What is the single most important thing a parent can do?  HAVE YOUR CHILDREN WEAR HELMETS WHEN BIKE RIDING.  The AAP statement estimates that 88% of the brain injuries sustained by children in bike accidents could have been prevented if the child had been wearing a properly fitted bike helmet. Adults should wear helmets as well.

Many people, especially teens may think that helmets aren’t cool.  However helmets are the law.  New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code Title 39:4-10.1 requires all persons under the age of 17 riding a bike to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet that meets the American National Standards Institute standard for a bike helmet, (ANSI Z90.4).  Title 39:4-10.2 states that a violation may be subject to a $25.00 fine for the first offense and up to $100.00 fine for subsequent violations, parents or guardians to be fined in the case of juvenile violators.    

How do you get your child to wear a helmet?  Wear one yourself.  Children learn by example and seeing a parent wear a helmet sends a strong signal on the helmet’s importance.  Young children can be raised to believe the helmet is part of the bike riding  experience, you don’t ride a bike without the helmet.  Older children might be persuaded by reviewing statistics.  If that has little impact, consider having a teen observe a honey due melon or cantaloupe fall from three feet to the asphalt pavement.  A wasted piece of fruit may be the graphic lesson a teen needs to recognize the danger the head faces from a fall or accident on a bike.  Brain damage is not cool.              

Bicycle enthusiasts and bike shop owners remind us that helmets must be properly fitted in order to offer maximum protection. There are numerous helmet styles and types for general, racing, or mountain biking.  They are all available in various colors and designs.  A helmet should be test fitted to see that the general shape fits the head.  Side to side and front to back motion and stability should be checked.  The straps should all be properly adjusted and pulled tight but not uncomfortably so.  Once properly fitted, parents should check fit on a periodic basis depending on a child’s maturity level. 

When purchasing a helmet for an adult venting should be considered.  A hot helmet that causes perspiration to run into one’s eyes may not be worn, and accidents happen when least expected, no helmet, no protection.   A common mistake of young and old alike is wearing a helmet cocked back exposing the forehead.  A properly fitted helmet will reflect the diagram in the owner’s manual.  A bike helmet may be another expense but properly fitted and worn, it may save the life of you or your child.  BICYCLE RIDERS NEED TO WEAR HELMETS.