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Our View: Helmets on children not just a law, it’s common sense

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On Jan. 1, one of the many new laws that went into effect was the requirement for those under the age of 18 are to wear protective helmets when riding a bicycle. When one puts this law aside the research on bicycle helmets and their reduction of injury, the new law makes perfect sense.

Recent studies have indicated that wearing a helmet while cycling can reduce the risk of injury by as much as 60 percent. In other words, you run twice the risk of serious head injury in an accident if you are not wearing a helmet.

When it comes to cycling accidents, head injuries are the most common fatal injuries among bicyclists in road accidents.

Moreover, helmets reduce the risk of serious brain damage and face injuries. The total number of killed or seriously injured cyclists drops by 34 percent when they have these protective shells around their skulls.

Cycling helmets have the greatest effect in accidents in single-bicycle accidents than when the bike rider crashes with a motor vehicle.

Single-bike accidents occur in lots of ways. For example, when you skid on slippery roads or take a corner on one of those leaf-covered Folsom trails this time of year, there are many other ways to take a tumble and when it comes to juveniles, most of a little bit of daredevil desire within them that can lead to injury. While the jump or trick may be spectacular, often the landing is where things can go wrong.

While the new helmet law is sure to protect our youngsters, there are other items that can assist with this. If you’re going to the local bike shop to buy that new helmet, you may want to pick up a few other items to keep junior safe as they ride home from their friend’s house and falls victim to the early setting sun.

Now is a good time to check your child’s bike to make sure it is very visible to motorists.  Make sure they have plenty of reflectors. If there is any chance your child may be riding at sunrise, sundown or in the dark, there are plenty of powerful headlights, tail lights and strobes available now that will keep them visible on the roads or trail.

Here are few tips to share with your youngsters for a safe and injury free 2019:

  • Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. Make sure all parts are working properly and the wheels are inflated and the brakes work.
  • Always wear a bicycle helmet. The helmet should fit snugly and not move from side to side. The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.
  • When riding a bicycle, always wear a helmet that meets or exceeds the safety standards developed by SNELL, ANSI and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
  • Always wear bright colors when riding a bicycle and avoid riding at night. If you have to ride at night, wear something that reflects light. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike, and that your headlight is on.
  • Bicycles are considered to be vehicles and bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists.

When riding, remember:

  • Ride single file and with the flow of traffic, never against it.
  • Follow all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
  • Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic by looking left-right-left.
  • When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch out for left or right-turning traffic.
  • Stay out of drivers’ blind spots and use appropriate hand signals.

Folsom is known for its great cycling amenities. As we enter a new year, let’s all do our part to make sure our children are safe while riding, as well as ourselves. It’s a new year with new laws, but common sense and courtesy are nothing new and implementing both of those will help keep everyone safe.

-The Folsom Telegraph