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Tricycle Safety. Tricycle Helmets?

Summary: Don Colburn's article on tricycle helmets points out some good reasons for using them. This page applies to child tricycle riders, since we believe that adults on trikes need a bicycle helmet.

Even Toddlers on Trikes Benefit from Helmets

Preschool cyclists, even those on tricycles, benefit from wearing helmets as much as older children, a national study suggests.

Even young children who do not ride cycles in the street sustain severe injuries and need protection from head injury," researchers concluded. Although children under age 5 account for a small percentage of bike-riding injuries, the new study found, their injuries are comparable in severity to those of older children.

The study is based on a nationwide database of pediatric trauma cases, including 4,041 children hospitalized for bicycle-related injuries. About 5 percent of the injured children--219 in all--were under age 5; the rest were 5 to 14 years old. Tricycle-related injuries were counted as bicycle injuries in the database.

Almost none of the injured children--less than 3 percent of the preschoolers and about 3 percent of those aged 5 to 14--wore a helmet at the time of their injury. Head trauma was the most common serious injury among both older and younger children hospitalized after bicycling mishaps.

While most injury-prevention efforts are aimed at school-age children and adolescents, researchers said the wear-a-helmet message should target preschoolers as well. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 bicycles for preschool-age children are sold each year in the United States.

Helmet use by young children would likely prevent most head injuries [in cyclists] and might help form habits that would result in improved helmet use rates as these young cyclists grow older," researchers concluded.

The study was conducted by a team from Children's Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. The results were published in this month's Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Aside from the severity, which was similar, researchers found a slightly different pattern of injuries in very young cyclists, compared with older ones. Preschool riders are more likely than older ones to be injured in the driveway or yard, and less likely to be hurt in the street. They were also less likely than older riders to be involved in crashes with motor vehicles.

Don Colburn

Confirmation from Wisconsin:
CDC Article on child pedaling injuries includes trikes

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has published an article on a Wisconsin study confirming that tricycle helmets can reduce injuries among children and promote helmet-wearing habits for later life.

And just in time, a tricycle helmet

The Angeles Group is primarily a tricycle and baby buggy manufacturer, but they have "trike" helmets. The Angeles Toddler Trike Helmet now sells for about $33. It is among the smallest toddler helmets on the market, designed for heads as small as 18"/45.7cm. It is advertised as meeting both the CPSC standard and the Snell B95A standard.

Here is a great pamphlet:
First Wheels, First Helmets

It was developed by the Monroe, WI, Safe Kids Coalition to encourage parents to put helmets on their kids when they first get a wheeled vehicle. It can be printed out in color or black-and-white and the photos still look good. For two sided printing, use the "flip on short edge" setting. Then fold it in thirds.

New Mexico Makes it Law

New Mexico passed a state law that went into effect in July, 2007 that includes a requirement for helmets for tricycle riders. It also covers both riders and passengers on bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and skates.

State injury prevention advocate John McPhee says "I know basically everyone is hesitant to include tricycles, but the NM Pediatric Society asked us for this inclusion, as they estimated that one third of all head injuries under the age of 5 years were due to riding tricycles, because this age group does not have adequate depth perception, peripheral vision, sense of danger, and sufficient coordination, in addition to the fact that they are not high profile enough to be readily seen by any motor vehicle operator."

And we should add: Warning! No Helmets on Playgrounds!

In February, 1999, the first strangulation incident in the US involving a bike helmet on playground equipment occurred. Be sure to teach your child to remove their helmet before using playground equipment or climbing trees! Here is a page of information on that problem.

Related topic: A scooter crash story - no helmet!