Kids Accident Risk: Importance of Helmets for Biking, Skateboarding, and Using a Scooter
Report shows alarming news about the risks kids take when riding bikes, scooters, skates and skateboards. Nearly 40 percent of the 1,600 parents surveyed admitted that their child doesn’t always wear a helmet while riding, even though more than 426,000 children – nearly 50 every hour – visited an emergency department (ED) in 2015 due to a wheeled sports-related injury.
The report, “Ready for the Ride: Keeping Kids Safe on Wheels,” explores parents’ beliefs and actions to protect kids while bicycling, scootering, skating and skateboarding. While statistics show helmet use is on the rise, this report uncovers a concerning number of parents who do not require their children to wear a helmet. Research shows that helmets and other protective equipment are the best way to prevent injuries while riding, and the new report suggests that more work needs to be done to protect kids at play.
Why Aren’t Kids Wearing Helmets?
- Some kids don’t wear helmets because their parents don’t require it. Nearly half of parents said that they or the child’s other parent don’t always make them wear it.
- Twenty-five percent of parents said that their child simply won’t wear helmets, saying they find them uncomfortable or uncool.
Properly-fitted helmets are the best way to prevent head injuries, and ensuring the correct fit of a helmet can increase comfort and use.
Are Kids Wearing Other Protective Equipment?
- Less than 1 in 5 parents of children who scooter and less than 2 in 5 parents whose kids skate said their children always wear knee or elbow pads.
- Parents of children who skateboard reported even lower numbers, with less than 1 in 3 saying their children always wear knee or elbow pads and less than 1 in 5 reporting they always wear wrist guards.
While head injuries are still an issue, the majority of ED visits for wheeled sports in 2015 were for fractures, contusions and abrasions. Protective equipment means more than just a helmet; riders also need to protect their elbows, knees and wrists for when they fall.
What Are Kids Getting Injured Riding?
- Between 2005 and 2015, bicycling injuries dropped by 28 percent and skateboarding injuries went down by 8 percent. However, skating-related injuries went up by 4 percent and injuries on scooters went up by 40 percent.
- Only 57 percent of parents said their child always wear a helmet while on a scooter, but 19 percent of hospital admissions for scooter-related injuries were because of head injuries.
No matter what kids are riding, it’s important for them to wear helmets and protective gear. Injuries can happen on any type of wheels.
Where Are Kids Riding?
- Most parents surveyed – 9 out of 10 – believe that their community is very or somewhat safe for riding. But among parents who report their child doesn’t always wear a helmet, 30 percent say it’s because the child is not riding in a “dangerous” area.
- Rural parents were more likely to say helmets aren’t necessary (60%) than urban parents (40%), but research suggests children riding in rural areas are at a higher risk for injury.
Even if a child is riding a bike in a driveway, concrete is concrete. It’s important for kids to use their helmets and protective gear no matter where they’re riding.
How Can Parents Protect Kids?
- Wear properly-fitted helmets, which are the best way to prevent head injuries and death, for every ride.
- Ride in safe locations like sidewalks, bike paths or bike lanes whenever possible.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Check all equipment at the start or end of every season.
- Ride together until kids are comfortable enough to ride on their own.
The full report includes more detailed findings from the report as well as additional statistics and safety tips.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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