MONDAY, May 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Many American kids don't don helmets when biking, skateboarding and riding scooters, a troubling new poll finds.
Among more than 1,300 parents surveyed, 18% said their kids never wear helmets while biking, 58% said their kids don't wear helmets while skateboarding, and 61% said their children don't wear helmets when riding scooters, according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan.
"Helmets are vital to preventing head injuries in case a child falls or is struck by a car," said University of Michigan pediatrician Dr. Gary Freed. "It is very concerning that so many children ride bikes and other non-motorized wheeled vehicles without ever using helmets."
In 2015 alone, more than 426,000 children went to an emergency room with injuries from these activities.
The researchers found that 93% of parents said their children give cars the right of way and 82% said their children stop at stop signs.
But most said their child doesn't use hand signals or walk their bike across crosswalks.
"Our report suggests that families should take more precautions to ensure children are safe, including wearing helmets and understanding safety in the streets," Freed said in a university news release.
Most parents said their child rode their bikes on sidewalks (73%) or in parks or on trails (59%). But 42% said their kids biked on streets without bike lanes, while 11% said their children used bike lanes.
The survey also found that older children were less likely to wear a helmet than younger children. Also, not all families insisted their kids wear a helmet.
Wearing a helmet isn't enough, Freed stressed. The helmet must fit correctly to offer the best protection.
Where allowed, children should bike on the sidewalk, he added. And parents should go along with younger kids. Kids should also be taught biking safety, including slowing down, using a bell or calling out to alert pedestrians.
When biking on the sidewalk, children should stop at intersections and walk the bike across streets. Kids also need to learn to watch out for people getting in and out of parked cars.
"We encourage parents to talk to their children about safety rules and expectations ahead of time to make sure these outdoor activities are both fun and safe," Freed said.
Visit the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for more on bike safety.
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