By Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters
May 31, 2013
U.S. states that require children and teenagers to wear helmets report fewer deaths involving bicycles and cars, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed the number of U.S. bicycle deaths between 1999 and 2010 and found that states with bicycle helmet laws reported about 20 percent fewer bike-related fatalities among people younger than 16 years old.
“The impetus is that when you make it a law, parents realize it’s important and parents get their kids to do it,” said Dr. William Meehan, the study’s lead author from Boston Children’s Hospital.
About 900 people die as a result of bicycle crashes every year in the U.S. and about three quarters of those are from head injuries, according to Meehan and his colleagues.
Previous research has found that wearing a helmet may reduce a person’s risk of a head or brain injury by up to 88 percent, but few studies have looked at the effect of helmet laws on national injury and fatality rates.