Helmet laws linked to fewer child deaths
According to a new study, state laws requiring children and teenagers to wear helmets are effective in reducing the number of deaths related to incidents involving bicycles and cars. Researchers analyzing the number of bicycle deaths between 1999 and 2010 found that states with bicycle helmet laws reported about 20 percent fewer bike-related fatalities involving riders under 16 years old.
Approximately 900 people die as a result of bicycle-related crashes every year in the United States. Three quarters of these fatalities are caused by head injuries. Previous research found that wearing a helmet reduces a person’s risk of a head or brain injury by up to 88 percent.
Researchers analyzing data tracking the number of traffic-related deaths nationwide compared the number of children and teenagers killed while riding bicycles in the 16 states with helmet laws enacted in 1999 with states without such laws.
In 1999, only 16 states had helmet laws in place. The overall rate of bicycle-related child deaths in the U.S. was 4 per million. Between January 1999 and December 2010, there were 1,612 bicycle-related deaths among children younger than 16 years old. During that time, states with helmet laws reported 2 bicycle-related deaths per 1 million children under age 16 years old, compared to 2.5 deaths per 1 million children in states without helmet laws.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children wear a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission every time they ride a bicycle.