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Failing to Wear a Bicycle Helmet in Maine

to-work-by-bike-1440576-m.jpgLess than half of the millions of Americans who ride bicycles wear helmets. One national survey of kids ages 5-14 taken in 2001-2003 determined that only 48% of them wore bicycle helmets. Older kids were less likely to wear helmets than younger kids were. Bike helmets have a bad rap for not being cool or stylish. Some kids don’t wear them for fear of getting teased or being seen as a geek or unattractive in front of their crush or friends. However, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the United States and about 515,000 were injured so badly they needed to go to the ER. Half of these were kids under age 20. A large percentage of injuries were traumatic brain injuries.

A bike is often your child’s first vehicle. It is a sign of freedom and impending adulthood. But it is important to make kids aware that wearing a bike helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, ASTM or Snell is not optional or uncool–it’s a must. The State of Maine recognizes how important this issue is and has made it mandatory for all people under age 16 to wear a bike helmet when riding in public streets.

The helmet should be one specifically made for bicycling. Helmets for other spots are not adequate substitutes because cycling helmets are designed to shatter on impact and reduce the blow to the head. A good bike helmet is typically under $20, but its value is far greater in terms of protecting against serious or catastrophic head injuries. Unlike passengers of cars, cyclists have nothing to stand between them and their bodies, and because cyclists are so small compared to cars, drivers don’t anticipate their presence and often don’t see them before an accident.

Healthychildren.org found that more than 600 children die every year from bicycle falls. While a child or parent may think it’s safe not to wear a helmet when a child is close to home, many accidents happen in the driveway or down the street where the victim lives. Bicycle helmets are as important as seatbelts.

Importantly, kids mimic their parents. If they see you wearing one, they are more likely to develop a habit of wearing a helmet. If your child doesn’t want to wear a helmet, it is worth discussing why and figuring out a helmet that they would decide to wear.

In addition to reducing the potential impact of injuries by wearing a helmet, you should also go over the rules of the road with your kids. Among other things, kids should obey traffic signs, use correct hand signals, stop at all stops and red lights and yield, and stop and look both ways before entering a four way intersection. If they are traveling at night, kids should wear reflective clothes and their bikes should be outfitted with a front headlight and flashing rear red light or red reflector.

It is important for kids to follow the rules of the road. However, let your kids know that wearing a helmet is not just to protect them from their own bicycling or a question of trusting them to follow road rules. It is equally about guarding against vehicle drivers who may not be driving safely or who may be drunk or who may be texting while driving.

If you or a loved one is injured on a bicycle, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve. At Briggs & Wholey, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced advocate, please contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC at (888) 596-1099 or through our website today.

More Blog Posts:

Child Safety in Maine: Graco Recall of Car Seats, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, March 18, 2014
Attitudes about Speeding in Maine and Elsewhere, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, March 11, 2014