The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with the American Automobile Association (AAA), is announcing today the release of a report and booklet entitled ""Kids Speak Out on Bike Helmets."" The report, which was based on a national AAA survey of children age 8 to 13, details children's feelings about bike helmets and their suggestions for making these helmets more appealing to kids.
While most children are aware that serious head injuries could result if they crash their bikes while not wearing a helmet, many kids still refuse to wear one because of how the helmets look and fit, according to the survey.
CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "Each year about 300 children are killed and more than 400,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms due to bicycle injuries. Children between 5 and 14 have the highest injury rate of all bicycle riders, and bicycle accidents are the leading cause of death in this age group."
Brown continued, "The greatest tragedy is that many of these injuries could be prevented if riders wore their helmets. In fact, young bicyclists can reduce the risk of head injury or death by up to 85 percent if they wear a helmet."
"This brochure was designed especially to grab the attention of youngsters who are most at risk and their parents," said Dean Childs, AAA director of Traffic Safety Services. "We want both to understand the importance of wearing bike helmets."
The survey asked kids from grade schools and junior high schools across the country what could happen if they crashed while not wearing a helmet. Responses included, "You could have serious brain damage and you might have to learn all you know all over again," and "You should always wear them [helmets] because they keep you and your brain safe."
Despite their awareness of the risks associated with not wearing a helmet, most of the children surveyed said they would not wear a helmet because "They make you look like a nerd, a geek, weird or dorky." Kids also complained that helmets "make you sweat and are very tight."
When kids were asked what it would take to get them or their best friend to wear a helmet, responses ranged from "Show pros wearing helmets and being cool" to "If you wear one, you get a free pizza." Many kids suggested tougher enforcement of bike helmet laws -- one respondent suggested "Tell them its the law and if they don't [wear helmets] they will have to eat spinach."
Kids also suggested ways manufacturers could make helmets more appealing, including producing commercials with role models wearing helmets, adding decals and bills, and designing "helmets for girls with ponytails."
CPSC has sent informational copies of the study to about two dozen bike helmet manufacturers. CPSC and AAA will also be distributing copies of the booklet and study nationwide.