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(MS) — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 21 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 municipalities across the country have enacted age specific bicycle helmet laws. Surprisingly, 14 states have no state or local helmet laws. That may be unsettling to some considering the effectiveness of bicycle helmets and the number of bicyclist fatalities caused by motor vehicles. NHTSA statistics cite more than 51,000 bicyclist fatalities in the United States since 1932, the year when such statistics were first recorded. Recent statistics show that a significant percentage of bicyclist fatalities are children 14 and younger. In 2006, 773 bicyclists were killed, and 98 of those (13 percent) were children 14 and younger. That same year, 25 percent of injured bicyclists were between the ages of 15 to 24. While bicycle helmets certainly won’t keep a bicyclist from being hit by a motor vehicle, the effectiveness of helmets in mitigating injuries can significantly lessen the blow. Helmets are 85- to 88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, a significant statistic considering that a vast majority of fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries.

Last modified Oct. 8, 2008

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