Lesson 2:
Bicycle Helmets

Parents' Instructions

Bicycle Helmet Background

Most bicycling deaths and serious injuries are due to head injuries. Studies show that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85% and the risk of brain injury by 88% in bicycle accidents.*

Parent/Child Activity


Every time you ride your bike you should wear a bicycle helmet certified to the CPSC, Snell or ASTM standards. You can receive a severe head or brain injury by falling just a few feet from a standing bicycle. Brain injuries can be permanent and may not heal like an injury to an arm or a leg. Brain injuries can cause the loss of speech or sight or even paralysis or death. They can also change your personality.


To illustrate the effectiveness of a bicycle helmet, demonstrate the following: Wrap a light bulb in plastic wrap and tape it in an old bicycle helmet. Drop the helmet from above your head onto a hard flat surface (such as a driveway or sidewalk). The light bulb will not break. Next, take the light bulb out of the helmet and drop it on the sidewalk without the protection of the helmet. The bulb will shatter (the plastic wrap will prevent the glass from scattering everywhere). Discuss with your child how the light bulb represents a head and how the helmet protects it from injury.

Make sure that your children's helmets fit correctly. The helmet should sit level on the head (a properly sized helmet will move the skin on the forehead when the helmet is tilted gently back and forth) with the chin strap fitting snugly (with room for one finger to fit between the strap and under the chin when the mouth is open). Review your bicycle helmet owner's manual if you are unsure of a correct fit.

*New England Journal of Medicine 1989

© Copyright 1996, Ride Safe, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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