- Bicycle helmets are between 85% and 88% effective in preventing brain injuries.
- Universal use of helmets could prevent one death every day and one brain injury every four minutes.
- Half of all bike riders do not regularly wear a helmet.
- New Jersey requires that children under 17 to wear helmets while bicycling, in-line skating and other wheeled activities.
- More kids, ages 5-14 are injured in biking accidents than in any other sport.
- Each year, 550,000 people are injured in bicycle accidents, including 350,000 children under 15.
- Each year, bicycle crashes kill about 900 people, including 200 children under 15.
- Bicycle incidents are most likely to occur within five blocks of home, almost half in driveways and on sidewalks.
- There is a simple saying: “Use your head, wear a helmet.” It is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.
- Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights.
- Teach your kids to make eye contact with drivers. Bikers should make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before they cross the street.
- When riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening, be bright and use lights – and make sure your bike has reflectors as well. It’s also smart to wear clothes and accessories that have retro-reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.
- Actively supervise children until you’re comfortable that they are responsible to ride on their own.
Find the Right Helmet Fit
- Make sure your child has the right size helmet and wears it every time when riding, skating or scooting. Your children’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards. When it’s time to purchase a new helmet, let your children pick out their own; they’ll be more likely to wear them for every ride.
- Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends that kids take the Helmit Fit Test.
- Eyes check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
- Ears check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
- Mouth check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
Proper Equipment and Maintenance Are Important:
- Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike. Select one that is the right size for the child, not one he or she will grow into.
- When children are sitting on the seat of the bicycle, their feet should be able to touch the ground.
- Before the ride, make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
- Long or loose clothing can get caught in bike chains or wheel spokes. Dress young kids appropriately to ensure a safe ride.
Think Positive: A Helmet Safety Reward Program
Think Positive uses reinforcement to enforce New Jersey’s helmet law. The approach involves police officers handing out positive tickets to reward children and adolescents “caught” wearing their helmets. Each ticket includes information on helmet safety as well as a reward, such as a coupon for a free sliceof pizza, ice cream, discount on a movie, or similar incentive.
The incentives are provided by local businesses. The program fosters safe and responsible behavior and builds positive relationships between youth and police officers.
The Brain Injury Alliance offers a complete tool kit including a step-by-step manual to assist community groups develop these incentive programs.