June 22, 2009

Bicycle helmet use not the norm in U.S.

Every three days, a U.S. child is killed riding a bicycle, and every day at least 100 children suffer bicycle-related head injuries, U.S. researchers said.

A report released by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health found that in areas where no bicycle helmet laws exist, nearly one-half of bike riders ages 4-17 never wear a helmet.

Studies have shown wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle reduces risk of death by more than 50 percent, the report said.

The poll shows helmet use is better in areas where helmet laws exist -- 54 percent of parents report their children always wear a helmet while riding a bike, but 41 percent of parents said they were unsure about helmet use laws in their communities.

Among parents who report their child never wears a helmet, 32 percent believe they are too expensive. One in two children in the lowest income families making less than $30,000 per year never wear a helmet, the survey said.

Seventy-eight percent of parents report children ages 4-17 ride bicycles and 27 percent never wear their helmets while riding their bikes.

The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,125 adults ages 18 and older who are a part of Knowledge Network's online KnowledgePanel. The sample was weighted to reflect U.S. population. The margin of error is plus/minus 1 percentage point to 9 percentage points.