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New Research Finds a Shocking Number of Kids Don't Wear Bike Helmets

And it's even worse for skateboards and scooters!

With the school year almost over and the weather improving, there are plenty of kids that can't wait to hop on their bikes and get a taste of summertime freedom. And while riding a bike is both a healthy and fun form of exercise for children, it can also be incredibly dangerous—especially without safety gear. Still, according to a new national poll from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, nearly one in five parents don't make their children wear a helmet when riding a bike.

The poll was conducted among 1,330 parents who have at least one child between the ages of four and 13. The researchers also found that as many as 68 percent of parents don't make their children wear helmets while riding a scooter and 58 percent of them eschew this important safety measure while on a skateboard, too.

These numbers are particularly alarming, considering that a 2018 study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention found that more than 2.2 million children between the ages of five and 17 visited an emergency room due to a bicycle-related injury between 2006 and 2015. And a 2017 report by Safe Kids Worldwide found that as many as 50 children go into the emergency room with a wheeled sports-related injury every hour. The majority of these were head injuries, which could have been prevented or abated if the child had been wearing a helmet.

"Helmets are vital to preventing head injuries in case a child falls or is struck by a car," Gary Freed, a pediatrician at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and director of the new poll, said in a university newsletter. "It is very concerning that so many children ride bikes and other non-motorized wheeled vehicles without ever using helmets."

Freed also noted that "a substantial number of parents polled reported that their children do not consistently follow basic safety strategies on wheels." For example, while the majority of parents said their children do give cars the right of way and pause at stop signs when riding a bike, they also admitted their children don't use hand signals or walk their bikes across crosswalks.

"Our report suggests that families should take more precautions to ensure children are safe, including wearing helmets and understanding safety in the streets," he said.

Freed suggested parents start teaching their kids early on how to slow down, use a bell properly, call out to pedestrians, look out for passing cars, and be mindful of people who are getting out of parked cars. And, needless to say, they should be wearing helmets that fit snugly on their heads.

"With summer around the corner, bikes, skateboards, and scooters will be a fun way for kids to play outside and get exercise," Freed said. "We encourage parents to talk to their children about safety rules and expectations ahead of time to make sure these outdoor activities are both fun and safe."

And for more information on how to keep your kids safe, find out why Parents Are Asking Babysitters to Sign Contracts Forbidding Social Media on the Job.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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