Research supports laws that require bicyclists to wear helmets

May 6, 2013

Bicycle helmets save lives, and their use should be required by law. That's the conclusion of a study to be presented Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

"This study highlights the importance of regulations in the promotion of safe exercise," said lead author William P. Meehan III, MD, FAAP, director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention and the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital.

About 900 people die each year in bicycle crashes, three-quarters of them from . Pointing to evidence that shows helmets reduce the risk of injury and death, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all cyclists wear helmets that fit properly every time they ride. The AAP also supports legislation that requires all cyclists to wear helmets.

To determine if such laws reduce national injury and death rates, Dr. Meehan and his colleagues analyzed data from the on all U.S. bicyclists younger than 16 years of age who were severely injured or died between January 1999 and December 2009. They compared the injury and in states with mandatory to those without.

Results showed that 2,451 children suffered incapacitating injuries or died in bicycle- during the study period. An incapacitating injury was defined as one that prevents a person from walking or normally continuing the activities he or she was capable of before the injury.

States with mandatory helmet laws had significantly lower rates of fatalities/incapacitating injuries after bicycle- than states without helmet laws (2 per 1 million children vs. 2.5 per 1 million children, respectively). Helmet laws continued to be associated with lower rates of fatalities and incapacitating injuries after adjusting for factors known to be associated with lower rates of motor vehicle fatalities, including elderly driver licensure laws, legal blood alcohol limit (lower than 0.08 percent) and household income.

"In conjunction with our previous work on booster seat laws, this study further proves that mandatory safety equipment laws are effective," said Rebekah C. Mannix, MD, MPH, senior author on the study.

Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets.

Explore further: The impact of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist head injuries

More information: To view the abstract, "Bicycle Helmet Laws Decrease the Rates of Fatal and Incapacitating Injuries Resulting from Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions in Children," go to www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_3165.2

Related Stories

Bicycle helmets prevent fatal head injuries

October 15, 2012

Cyclists who died of a head injury were three times as likely to not be wearing a helmet compared with those who died of other injuries, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Study: Standardized child booster seat laws would save lives

October 22, 2012

State laws that mandate car booster seat use for children at least until age 8 are associated with fewer motor vehicle-related fatalities and severe injuries, and should be standardized throughout the U.S. to optimally protect ...

Recommended for you

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter

August 31, 2015

Older populations are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past —a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, say IIASA population ...

Higher intelligence score means better physical performance

August 14, 2015

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, the study reveals. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.