Trauma units call for bicycle helmets
Use of a bicycle helmet leads to a reduction by 63% to 88% of the risk of head injuries. An obligation to wear a bicycle helmet will meet with much resistance from interest groups. Yet trauma units emphasize that a helmet may reduce head and brain injuries particularly in children.
Annually 26,000 children and adolescents are treated in Emergency Departments in the Netherlands after a cycling accident, approximately 2,000 of whom will be hospitalized and on average 31 children will die. Many of these accidents lead to head injuries, according to TraumaNet AMC, a joint venture of hospitals in and around Amsterdam.
A bicycle helmet may prevent head injuries in cyclists. But it is important not to give the impression that cycling is dangerous, as this may likely deter parents from allowing their children to ride a bicycle, as revealed at a recent conference organised by TraumaNet.
Although it is useful to point out to parents of children aged 4-8 that wearing a helmet has its advantages cycling interest groups, among others, say it is not advisable to make wearing a helmet obligatory. They emphasize possibilities for playfully promoting helmets, like the campaign in the province of Zeeland, where children wearing a helmet to school had a chance to win nice prizes.
It is still a matter of concern that wearing a helmet is only useful when it is done correctly, which is quite often not the case. For instance children in a hurry to join their friends cycling away may put on the helmet too fast and carelessly.
Over the age of 8 it is increasingly hard to motivate children and adolescents to wear a helmet, the conference revealed. In other countries this is the reason that almost none of the children between the ages of 10 to 18 rides a bicycle, except for sports and recreation. Children in this age group are extremely opposed to using a helmet. “You look like a fool”, “It is not cool”, “It is awkward”, “No place to store it”, “Feels weird on my head”, “Ruins your hair”, are some of the arguments.