The Necessity Of Bicycle Helmet Laws

1486 words - 6 pages

The Necessity of Bicycle Helmet Laws

 
  Bicycle accidents have increased dramatically in the United States. About 500 American children and teenagers die each year in bicycle accidents, and three-quarters of those deaths come from head injuries (Jacques 1). Recent federal safety reports suggest that helmets can reduce the risk of head injury, but that only 4% of children under the age of ten wear helmets when bicycling. The percentage drops even more for young riders, particularly the rebellious 11- to 14-year-old age group. The younger generation often cites peer pressure, or the "nerd" factor, as the main reason for not wearing a helmet, and many adults say, "I did not wear one as a child, and I'm all right." Although states have been slow to mandate helmet laws because of such attitudes, I support development of bicycle laws. Mandatory helmet use for children under 16 will be effective in reducing head injuries, deaths, and medical insurance costs that affect us all.

      A report by the federal safety agency confirms mandated helmet laws reduce the risk of head injuries when bicyclists are involved in an accident. The majority of fatal bicycle accidents involve collision with a motorized vehicle of some kind. According to Louis Jacques, Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, bicycle-associated injuries account for an estimated 600,000 emergency room visits yearly in the United States, and about half of the bicycle accidents are head trauma. However, the federal safety report shows that bicycle helmets can reduce this number of head injuries by 85 percent. Unfortunately, the report also confirms that the use of bicycle helmets remains low unless mandated by law (296). Despite the fact that helmets don't prevent accidents, helmets will dramatically reduce massive head injuries. For example, Tom Carnale, a close friend of my son Jeff, always wore his helmet, and he credits it for saving his life. When his bicycle was struck by a car on a busy street in Lock Haven last June "the driver, hit the front of his bicycle and knocked Tom off," recalls the youth's father, Jim Carnale. "Tom slid across the hood, hit the windshield with his back, then hit his head on the roofline. There's a little dent in the car there that his helmet made." Even wearing the helmet, Tom suffered a cut on his head, requiring 30 stitches. His helmet was shattered on the inside and the outer casing was split, but because he was wearing a helmet he was merely hospitalized overnight for observation. Dr. Joe Kausaski a physician at the Williamsport Hospital said had it not been for the helmet, Tom would have been dead from severe head injuries. Another example of the helmet's benefits involves Susan Dunlop, a colleague of my son Louis. Susan was involved in a very low impact bicycle accident, which resulted in a severe blow to her head. Fortunately, she was wearing a helmet. Yet, she still received a serious concussion, causing her to withdraw from the...

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