A teenager in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) most likely won’t walk again because of a preventable tragic accident. Riding his bike without a helmet changed his life forever.
Millions of Americans ride bikes each year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than half wear bicycle helmets and thousands of people suffer bicycle-related head injuries each year.
The CDC reports that “in 2010 in the U.S., 800 bicyclists were killed and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care. Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.”
While adult bicyclists are not required by state law to wear helmets, “young riders are required to wear helmets in only 21 states and the District of Columbia,” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Take a look at this map of the United States and you may be surprised to learn that those “purple” states do not have bicycle helmet laws.
Whether your state requires you to wear a helmet or not, be smart and be preventive. Every time you and your children ride a bicycle, choose to wear a properly fitted helmet. Wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Here’s a good guide from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to make sure you’re wearing your helmet the right way (follow the link to Fitting a Bike Helmet to get the PDF).
Here are a few simple rules of the road to follow:
- Ride on the right side of the road – with the traffic flow, not against it
- Obey traffic signs and signals just as if you were driving a car
- Use correct hand signals
- Stop at all stop signs and red lights
- Stop and look both ways before entering a street
Remember wearing reflective clothing (not just light-colored clothing) at dawn, dusk and night is a smart choice. You want cars to be able to easily spot you. And make sure that the bike has a front headlight and a rear red reflector or flashing red light.
Prevention begins with you. Be proactive and take charge of your health.