Each year, bicycle-related deaths number about 900, and hospital emergency rooms treat more than 500,000 people for bicycle-related injuries. Children, ages 5 to 14, go to hospital emergency rooms more for injuries related to bicycles than with any other sport. Many of these injuries involve the head. If you do not wear a bicycle helmet, you are risking your life.
The State of Maine requires all persons under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle in public ways.
- Wear a helmet that is made specifically for bicycling and approved by ASTM, CSA or Snell. Never substitute a hockey or baseball helmet for a bicycling helmet. A bicycling helmet is made to absorb a crash differently. It is designed to shatter on impact and soften the impact to your head.
- If you have been in an accident and your helmet has been hit, don't use it again. Once your helmet has been in an accident, small invisible cracks can weaken its shell and the foam can get crushed. Buy a new helmet!
Having a helmet on will do little good if it does not fit properly. Use the fit test below to ensure that the helmet used for your child fits properly to prevent injury.
Helmet fit test
___ Rim barely visible - The front rim should be barely visible to the rider's eye
___ Y below the ear - The Y of the side straps should meet just below the ear
___ Snug strap - The chin strap should be snug against the chin so that when the rider opens their mouth very wide the helmet pulls down a little bit.
___ Skin moves a little - Move the helmet side to side and front to back, watching the skin around the rider's eyebrows. It should move slightly with the helmet. If it does not, the fit pads are probably too thin in front or back, or the helmet may even be too large.
___ Stabilizer snug - If there is a rear stabilizer, adjust it until it is snug under the bulge on the rear of the head.
___ Palm test - Have the rider put their palm on the front of the helmet and push up and back. If it moves more than an inch more fitting is required.
___ Shake test - Have the rider shake their head around. This can be fun. If the helmet dislodges, work on the strap adjustments.
___ Ask about comfort - Ask the rider if the helmet is comfortable and check to make sure there are no comfort issues that still need to be addressed.
___ Be ready to switch - Not all helmets fit all heads. Be prepared to use a different helmet if the one you are fitting just will not work for this rider.
Bicycles on the road should follow all traffic laws. Bikes should signal when turning and slowing down, and riders should be in the correct lane on the road. Bicycle riders should also follow all speed limit laws.
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