To Prevent Cycling Injuries, "Put a Lid on It"
SEATTLE - Put a lid on it! That's the message from the American Academy of Pediatrics, confirming that riding without a helmet significantly increases a bicyclist's risk of sustaining a head injury in the event of a crash.
Emergency room physician Mike Gittleman says wearing a helmet can reduce head-injury chances by 85 percent - injuries that can run the gamut.
"Sometimes you just see some abrasions, but they can also be more serious. You can have skull fractures, you can have intracranial bleeding, and it can even cause death."
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2010 more than 600 people on bicycles were killed in collisions with motor vehicles across the country - and at least 70 percent of the victims were not wearing helmets.
With the exception of motor vehicles, bicycles are linked to more childhood injuries than any other consumer product, Gittleman says, including trampolines, ladders and swimming pools.
Just as you get your bike checked on a yearly basis, he adds, it's important to make sure that your helmet still fits correctly, which is particularly important with kids as they grow. He also points to an economic rationale for wearing a bike helmet.
"The usage alone will not only save lives and injury, but it also saves health-care dollars. The expense on these injuries is great, and if we can prevent them on the forefront, it would be saving health-care dollars, as well."
Twenty-one states now have bicycle helmet laws, but most only require children to wear helmets. Washington has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law, but no helmet law for bicycle riders of any age.
Helmet law information by state is available at www.iihs.org.