Wrong approach to helmets

Published Apr 10, 2013 at 05:00AM

When I was young, hockey players didn’t wear helmets. Then youth leagues required them. These younger players got used to helmets. Helmets were soon on all players, even the pros. If we take that lesson and apply it to bicycle helmets, the same result may occur. However, we need to enforce the existing law.

Page B3 of the March 26 Bulletin had an article about raising the age limit for the mandatory wearing of helmets: “Under current Oregon law, anyone 16 or younger must wear a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard or scooter, or while inline skating or roller skating.” Turn back to page B1, you will see a picture of an 11-year-old in a public park doing tricks on a scooter. He has no helmet.

Raising the mandatory helmet age to 18 will do nothing to change the culture of not wearing helmets. Enforcing the law may. Someone told me that a coastal town started to stop helmetless children on their bikes, take their names and give them a warning that not wearing a helmet would get them fined. Soon all children were wearing helmets. If we enforce the law, when those under 16 reach the age where they could remove their helmets, many won’t because it became habit. Cycling is a safe activity, but there will be crashes and if your head hits the ground you will be far likelier to avoid a major head injury if you are wearing a helmet.

Michael T. McGinnis

Madras

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