As Orange County children go back to school this September, many of them will be riding bicycles to and from school each day. With more children sharing public paths and roadways, an Orange County bicycle accident attorney thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss bicycle safety.
California was the first state to pass a bicycle helmet law back in 1986. This law was amended in 1994 to cover children under the age of 18. Each year more than half a million cyclist’s end up in emergency rooms and tragically over 800 will die; one quarter of those are children. Two-thirds of these deaths may have been prevented if the cyclist had worn a helmet. Well made headgear can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85%, yet only about 50% of cyclists wear them.
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, results from a severe blow to the head, in many cases from falling onto concrete or asphalt. The two age groups that have the highest risk of TBI are 15-19 year olds and 0-4 year olds. It’s important to have children start thinking about safety, starting with wearing a helmet. One severe fall could lead to a concussion or worse.
The main purpose of a helmet is to minimize head injury by absorbing the energy of an impact. New materials such as polystyrene foam do a great job expanding during a severe fall and protect your head. However after a hard fall, helmets need to be replaced. They can only withstand one severe jolt.
Here are some tips to remember when back to school shopping:
• Helmets are not the same for every sport. Bicycle helmets must be tested and certified to meet federal guidelines. Check packaging details for requirement data.
• Always try on a helmet before you buy it and be sure the straps are snug, not tight and that the helmet fits your head. If you’re not sure of the fit, ask an experienced salesperson in the area for recommendations.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC has created a new brochure, “Which helmet for which activity?” It is freely available from the website at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/349.pdf
Lastly, for the first few days of the new school year, go over your children’s route and explain bicycle safety procedures. If your kids don’t ride their bike frequently, they may have forgotten some important rules of the road. Wearing a helmet can prevent serious head injury and protect your child-whether they want to or not, it’s the law!
For additional information on bicycle safety and bicyclists’ rights, or to speak with an Orange County bicycle accident attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596.