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Are Bike Helmets A Sign of Inequality?

Bike helmets are key to reducing injury in bicycle accidents. But a new study suggests that poor and minority children are less likely to use helmets and more likely to go to the hospital with head injuries. That could make bike helmets, or the lack thereof, a sign of inequality.

Dr. Obinna Adibe, a researcher in pediatric surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, recently released a study of children and bike helmets. The results weren’t great. Despite years of bike safety education, of the 7,678 bike accidents involving kids under 16 reported in the National Trauma Database, just 22 percent of them wore helmets at all.

When Abide broke the numbers down by race and source of insurance, the results were equally concerning. Black children were 62 percent less likely to be wearing a helmet than their white counterparts. Kids insured by Medicaid, who are typically from lower socioeconomic status families, had 67 percent lower odds of helmet use than children with private coverage. That suggests an income disparity.

And Michigan was in one of the worst regions for kids’ bike helmet use. The study found that kids in the Midwest and Southern United States were less likely to use helmets than kids in the Northeast.

“Our findings are unfortunate but not surprising,” said lead study author Dr. Obinna Adibe. . . . “Head injuries are the most lethal type of injury in these children, and one of the most common.”

Every year, more than 300 children die because of traumatic head injury. But there is an answer to correcting this bike helmet inequity.

Bike safety rallies and helmet giveaways, like the ones recently hosted in Ferndale and Auburn Hills can help equip local kids with the bike helmets they need. By teaching these children how to wear helmets properly and that wearing them can even be cool, police and concerned volunteers hope to change the results of this study for the better. Parents can help too, by setting a good example for their kids, wearing helmets whenever they ride.

Bike safety is important at any age. But especially for poor and minority kids, failing to use bike helmets has caused a lot more injuries, and even some deaths. Don’t let tragedy happen in your neighborhood. Plan a safety rally today to teach kids how to protect themselves.

David Christensen is a bike accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team represent bike riders struck by cars to make sure their injuries are covered. If you or your child has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.