Feb 11, 2013

Effects of Bicycle Helmet Laws on Children's Injuries

In 2010, there were about 40 million cyclists in the United States, 37 percent of whom were aged 7- 17 years old (NSGA 2012). Cycling, however, is an activity that can lead to potentially serious injuries and death, particularly among children. In 2009, bicycle accidents resulted in 782 deaths nationwide, and over 518,000 emergency room visits (CDC 2012a; CDC 2012b). Children aged 19 and under account for 57 percent of all bicycle injuries treated in emergency rooms and 15 percent of deaths. In fact, bicycle accidents are a leading cause of accidental death among children (CDC 2012b).
From a paper by Chatterji & Markowitz (February 2013).
Cycling is popular among children, but results in thousands of injuries annually. In recent years, many states and localities have enacted bicycle helmet laws. We examine direct and indirect effects of these laws on injuries. Using hospital-level panel data and triple difference models, we find helmet laws are associated with reductions in bicycle-related head injuries among children. However, laws also are associated with decreases in non-head cycling injuries, as well as increases in head injuries from other wheeled sports. Thus, the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.

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