Many children living in New York learn to ride a bicycle almost as soon as they learn to walk. Sadly, though, bicycles can be incredibly hazardous for young riders. Children are increasingly forced to play and ride their bikes near busy streets, placing them in dangerously close proximity to traffic and auto accidents. Fortunately, new evidence suggests that thousands of serious pediatric injuries and fatalities from bicycle accidents can be prevented every year with increased helmet use.
In 2010, it’s estimated that well over 500,000 people required emergency medical care as a result of injuries sustained on a bicycle. The figures also suggest that some 800 bicycle riders died that same year. And while such estimates are concerning, the Bike Helmet Safety Institute now believes that over half of all bicycle-linked deaths may be avoided with widespread helmet use. The Institute is now placing emphasis on young riders, who are especially vulnerable to serious head injuries and death.
For child riders from ages four to 15, bicycle helmet use could save almost 150 lives and prevent around 40,000 head injuries, according to the Bike Helmet Safety Institute. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently highlighted how serious the situation is for young bike riders with research that suggests that only a little more than 10 percent of older children treated for injuries were wearing helmets in Los Angeles, California. The countywide study surveyed over 1,000 children during a five-year period. Factors considered in the study included everything from the child’s gender to their ethnicity to their age.
Ultimately, it was determined that older kids and minority groups were the least likely to use helmets, and would therefore benefit the most from bicycle safety training. The mortality rate for child bicycle riders was the highest among those not wearing helmets.
Source: medicaldaily.com, “89% Of Children In Bike Accidents Do Not Wear Helmets, Upping Risk Of Traumatic Brain Injuries,” Justin Caba, Oct. 26, 2013