On May 6, 2013 the results of a decade-long study on the effectiveness of mandatory bicycle helmet laws were presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies at their annual meeting in Washington, DC. The study's lead author is Dr. William P. Meehan, director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention and the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children's Hospital.
The study analyzed data on all U.S. bicyclists under the age of 16 who were killed or incapacitated between January 1999 and December 2009. Dr. Meehan and his colleagues defined an incapacitating injury as "one that prevents a person from walking or normally continuing the activities he or she was capable of before the injury." Even controlling for factors such as states' legal blood alcohol limits and elderly driving laws, there was a statistically significant difference in the number of deaths and incapacitating injuries among children under 16 in states with mandatory helmet laws. Specifically, there were 2 fatalities/incapacitating injuries per 1 million children in states with mandatory helmet laws, as opposed to 2.5 fatalities/incapacitating injuries per 1 million children in states without mandatory helmet laws.
There are approximately 900 bicycling-related deaths nationwide each year. Among these 900 deaths, an estimated 75% result from head injuries. Dr. Meehan and his colleagues assert that this number would drop with mandatory bicycle helmet laws. Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory bicycle helmet laws. Illinois does not have a statewide law requiring the use of bicycle helmets for adults or children.
The Illinois Bicycle Attorneys at Keating Law Offices strongly encourage all Chicago area bicyclists to invest in properly fitting helmets and other safety equipment. Unfortunately, even the most experienced bicyclists cannot control against certain safety threats, such as reckless motorists. Keating Law Offices has represented a number of clients injured in bicycle collisions whose injuries would have been much more severe, if not fatal, had they not been wearing helmets. Helmets do work. As the old adage goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
If you have any questions regarding this post please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com.