Everyone knows how important wearing a helmet is while biking. Ninety-two percent of bicyclists killed in crashes with automobiles were not wearing helmets. Helmet usage in Utah has increased over the past twenty-two years from less than 1 in 20 to more than 1 in 3 – a heartening leap. Considering both the obvious benefits and cultural changes, you might think that Utah would have a law requiring all riders to wear a helmet. In fact, no U.S. state has such a law! Children aged 10 to 14 are disproportionately likely to be involved in a bike accident – does Utah at least have a law requring children to wear a helmet? No, Utah is one of 29 states with no laws regarding bicycle helmet wearing. Fifteen of those states have some local ordinances on the books, but Utah is not one of them. We have a law requiring motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, but nothing on the books about bicycle riders. California, New Mexico, and Maryland have the strictest bike helmet laws in the nation, requiring any bicyclist under the age of 18 to wear a helmet.
As your mom probably told you, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” How can you encourage your child to wear a helmet each and every time they bike?
Lead By Example
Children, despite what we may think from time to time, are hugely influenced by what their parents say and do. Nearly 7 in 10 of observed adults were wearing a helmet when biking in Utah. Overall helmet wearing is about double the national average. Take bike rides as a family, and wear helmets and other protective gear as a matter of course.
Get Your Child (and Yourself) a Helmet
If parents don’t purchase their elementary- and secondary-school-aged children a helmet, then they won’t wear one. When their face lights up seeing a brand-new bike under the tree, make sure a helmet is part of the package. For low-income families or anyone else having trouble getting access to bike helmets, the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective is willing to help.
Know the Laws and Know the Facts
If your family takes a biking trip in another state, it’s likely that municipal or state laws will require your child to have a helmet. Whether you’re riding along Santa Monica Pier in sunny California or visiting Boston’s historic districts, it’s not only a good idea for a child to wear a helmet in these locales, it’s the law.
Advocate and Teach
If you are passionate about child safety in Utah, there are many ways to push for state helmet laws. Helmet laws increase rates of usage by a factor of 8%.
Bike/automobile accidents are a real threat to Utahns. For instance, Stephen Covey, noted life management expert and the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died from complications of a bike accident.
If adults can be hit, injured, and even killed on Utah’s roads, children and teens are even more vulnerable. Contact Christensen & Hymas for a FREE Bike Accidents book today – they are clear, concise, and a great resource to draw upon in teaching your family about bike safety and helmet usage. Sounds like a fun family activity to us – talk about the importance of wearing helmets, then hit the trails!