Can Bicycle Helmet Laws Prevent Brain Injuries In Children?
Over 100,000 children in the U.S. sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from bicycle accidents each year. Some states already have laws requiring children to wear helmets when riding, but like motorcycle helmet and seat belt laws, the effectiveness of bicycle helmet laws in preventing injuries remains a matter of controversy.
A recent review of five studies involving child helmet laws, published in The Cochrane Library, suggests that the laws do significantly increase helmet use and help to reduce brain injuries. One of the reviewed studies showed an 18% drop in bicycle-related TBI in children in California, over the course of 10 years after helmet laws went into effect. Another found that provinces in Canada which had helmet laws had a 45% decrease in child head injuries, while those without the laws had a 27% decrease. The studies did not address concerns that the laws may reduce bicycle riding in general or that they may encourage riding in riskier situations.