Make bike helmets a must

Original source:

More than 2.2 million American kids wound up in hospital emergency rooms with bike-related injuries in just a decade, a new study shows. That breaks down to 25 children treated every hour.

Researchers looked at ER visits from January 2006 through December 2015. And they did find a bright spot: The rate of kids getting hurt badly enough to need ER care dropped over this time. But clearly too many kids are still getting hurt.

The study also found that nearly half of the kids needing treatment were age 10 to 14. And boys outnumbered girls by roughly 3 to 1.

Overall, traumatic brain injuries made up 11 percent of all the injuries. About 4 percent of the kids were hospitalized.

Helmets really work

Kids wearing helmets at the time of their accidents had the lowest risk of head and neck injuries and being hospitalized, the researchers reported. That’s why it is so crucial for kids to wear a helmet on every bike ride—no matter how short. It’s the best way to prevent serious injuries, the researchers stressed.

Still, to be effective, that helmet must fit properly. It should sit on the top of the head in a level position—and not rock forward, backward or in any direction. Kids should always buckle the straps too, though not too tightly.

Top safety tips

If you’re a parent, you can also help your child stay injury-free by seeing that your youngster:

  • Rides on the sidewalk whenever possible. Otherwise, your child should ride in the same direction as traffic as far on the right-hand side as possible.
  • Uses hand signals and follows the rules of the road. Make sure your child knows to ride predictably. That is, riding in a straight line and never swerving between cars.
  • Wears bright colors and uses lights, especially when riding at night and in the morning. Reflectors on your child’s clothes and bikes will also help your child be visible to drivers.

The study appeared online in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention. For more findings, read the abstract. And be sure to check out this infographic to see if a bike is safe to ride.

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