On May 1, Winnipeg’s new law regarding helmet use took effect. It is now mandatory that everyone under the age of 18 years must wear a standard approved helmet while riding a bike. Since the law became official, I have seen many children under the age of 18 still not wearing a helmet when riding their bikes.
Sadly, this does not surprise me. Nor did it surprise me that a law actually had to be implemented to tell people to protect themselves and their children; it’s not like we, as a society, are not aware of the risks that not wearing a helmet poses. We’ve heard the stories, seen the pictures, and for some, have even witnessed accidents and injuries first hand. Yet far too many people still refuse to get helmets for their children.
Having come from a career where I have worked with people with traumatic brain injuries, I have seen first hand just how fragile the head and brain actually are. I know how easily the brain can be injured and how permanent and devastating effects of head injuries can be. It is because of this knowledge and experience, that I not only insist that my own child always wears a helmet, but I wear one as well.
Some of the most common excuses that I’ve heard from children and adults who don’t like wearing helmets are that helmets are not cool. Really? Cycling police officers, paramedics and professional athletes all wear helmets and there is definitely nothing un-cool about them. As well, companies have, over the last few years, worked diligently to create very stylish helmets in a vast array of designs that will suit many tastes.
Another excuse is that a helmet will mess up your hair. I can assure you, if you get into an accident, not only will your hair be messed up, but it will be the very least of your concerns.
They’re expensive is another common excuse. True, but the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation has had a program running with the schools for several years now where parents can buy a standard certified helmet for their children at a reduced cost. This program was designed to encourage parents to buy helmets for their kids.
Putting helmet use into perspective, the brain is the most important, most valuable part of your body. On average, over 160 people under age 18 are hospitalized yearly for injuries related to bike riding accidents, according to the Province of Manitoba’s “Don’t Get Busted” helmet law and safety brochure. A properly fitting helmet reduces your risk of a head injury by over 85%.
Whether you are an adult or child, it only makes sense to wear a helmet while riding a bike. With more cyclists and vehicles on the roadways, the risk of collisions and injuries grows every year. Not only is it the safe, smart thing to do, for anyone under 18, it’s now the law.