Too often, bike helmets gather dust in the garage or are missing from garages altogether.
Less than half of bike-riding kids ages 5 and older always wear bike helmets, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Safety Research. Helmet use is even worse for adults.
That’s unfortunate. Head injuries are the most common cause of death and serious disability in bike-related crashes. Every year, 26,000 children and adolescents suffer traumatic brain injuries from bike crashes.
“About 75 percent of all deaths related to bicycle crashes could have been prevented with a bicycle helmet,” said Heather Trnka, injury prevention coordinator for Akron Children’s Hospital. “We know that helmets save lives and prevent traumatic brain injuries, concussions and other significant injuries to the head,” she said.
Research shows that when parents wear helmets, kids are far more likely to wear a helmet every time they hop on a bike.
Make sure helmets fit firmly. They should sit level on the head, no more than 2 fingers above the eyebrows. The straps should form a V right below the ear lobes. With a mouth wide open, the helmet should be snug.
Helmet fit can change if hairstyle changes. So if your child crops his long, bushy hair, make sure the fit is adjusted.
Replace helmets as kids grow, and also if a helmet is involved in a crash and absorbs impact. The foam material will be compromised after an impact.
Helmets should also be replaced if you find cracks or deformations. Consumer Reports recommends replacing helmets every 5 years, even if they appear fine and haven’t been involved in a crash.