Bicycle Helmets Save Lives and Brains
Riding a bicycle without a proper helmet is a no brainer—that is, you risk losing your brain if you fall off a bike with an unprotected head.
Now, a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics confirms the common sense of always wearing a helmet. It says that bike helmet laws seem to prevent more head injuries and deaths than formerly believed, a conclusion that contradicts another study questioning the safety value of bicycle helmet legislation.
As interpreted on AboutLawsuits.com, the Pediatrics research analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of bicyclists younger than 16 who died between 1999 and 2010. FARS is a nationwide census providing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Congress and the public with yearly data about fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Those data indicated that states with mandatory bike helmet laws had a 20% lower fatality rate than those that didn’t.
But a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that analyzed Canadian laws between 1994 and 2003 found no effect of bike helmet laws on child fatalities. (It defined young people as those younger than 18.)
Although that study concluded that injury rates declined in provinces that had bike helmet requirements, researchers said the decrease wasn’t the result of helmet laws because injury rates had begun to decline when the legislation was enacted, and they didn’t continue to decline after the laws were in place.
The BMJ researchers attributed the lower injury numbers to improved public education about bike safety, safe-riding media campaigns and wider availability of subsidized helmets.
But let’s look at that conclusion with a critical eye: Doesn’t it logically follow that if you are a better informed cyclist you understand the necessity of wearing a helmet? Why would authorities subsidize helmets if they weren’t clearly protective, if there wasn’t a clear benefit?
More than 900 people die each year from bicycle collisions, according to AboutLawsuits, and about 3 in 4 of those fatalities were caused by a head injury.
Every bicyclist, young or old, should wear a helmet. Parents should set the right example by wearing a helmet when they ride, and they should require their kids to wear one from the first time they get on a trike.
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