Bicycle Safety

Buying a Helmet

Quite simply, helmets save lives. If every young cyclist wore one, the injury figures wouldn't be so sobering. Helmet use, according to the CPSC, would have reduced the number of brain injuries that occurred last year by 88 percent, the number of head injuries by 85 percent, and the number of bicycle-related fatalities by 75 percent. But the most somber statistic of all: 75 percent of all riders under age 15 do not wear helmets.

Make sure you buy the right helmet! Here are some tips in choosing one:

1. All bike helmets sold since March 1999 meet the same CPSC safety standards, so there is little functional difference between a $10 model from a discount store and a $100 helmet from a bike shop.

2. Stay away from old helmets, damaged helmets, and helmets designed for other sports.

3. Choose a white or brightly colored helmet, which will help make your child more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and other bikers.

4. Pick a helmet that fits snugly. If it rocks forward, backward, or from side to side, it's too loose. The chin strap, which should be fastened at all times, can be adjusted to provide a tight but comfortable fit for the right-size helmet.

5. Buy your child a helmet that fits now -- not an oversize helmet that he will grow into. Each size should last for at least a couple of years.

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