According to a new, Bell-sponsored survey by the Safe Kids campaign – presented by Linda Armstrong Kelly, mother of Lance Armstrong - fewer than half of all US children wear helmets while cycling. In states with mandatory helmet laws, 52 percent of child cyclists were seen wearing helmets, as opposed to 42 percent in states with no helmet laws. Surprisingly, despite stating "the number one killer of kids [is] motor vehicle crashes", Safe Kids does not promote helmet wearing for children in cars...

US children not wearing bike helmets, says survey

However, unlike the British single-issue lobby group, the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, Safe Kids advocates helmet wearing for children taking part in skating, roller-blading and other wheeled sports, not just cycling.

Many children observed in the survey – Headed for Injury: An Observational Survey of Helmet Use Among Children Ages 14 and Under Participating in Wheeled Sports – who were wearing helmets were wearing them improperly, leaving them vulnerable to head injury, said Safe Kids.

Only 40 percent of children watched on residential streets were using helmets, the campaign said.

"Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile," claims Safe Kids.

But, whilst the organisation advocates booster seats for children, it does not advocate mandatory helmet wearing for children transported in cars, a measure that could save many lives.

In its latest campaign to get children to wear cycle helmets, Safe Kids uses some of the same statistics as BHIT: "Helmets reduce the risk of brain injury in a bike accident by 88 percent.and head injuries account for up to 80 percent of bike fatalities."

These particular two statistics are widely used by helmet campaigners but, claim helmet anti-compulsionists, have been shown to come from flawed studies. See

Safe Kids researchers watched more than 8000 children and nearly 1400 adults at 549 sites in 46 states and the District of Columbia. They saw 3739 children, or 46 percent of the total, wearing helmets. 30 percent of the children wearing helmets were wearing them improperly, with helmets tilted or straps unsecured. In a fall, an ill fitting helmet would be of little protective use.

Safe Kids and Bell are promoting Headed for Injury: An Observational Survey of Helmet Use Among Children Ages 14 and Under Participating in Wheeled Sports with the help of Linda Armstrong Kelly, mother of five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

"While bike-riding and other wheeled activities are a fun part of everyday life, all it takes is one fall to suffer a serious head injury," said Lance’s mum.

"That’s why even the most accomplished riders wear helmets. As a mother, I know it’s not always easy, but it’s no different than seat belts — we have to teach our children to get in the habit of wearing helmets, and wearing them properly."

Like many other pro cyclists, Lance Armstrong ditches his helmet when UCI rules dictate that helmets can be removed, for instance in the last few kilometres of a steep climb.

Safe Kids and Bell encourage parents to teach their children the ‘Eyes, Ears & Mouth’ checklist to ensure proper helmet fit

Eyes: The rim of the helmet should be 1-to-2 finger-widths above the eyebrows.

Ears: The straps should form a "V" under just beneath the ear lobe.

Mouth: The buckle should be flush against the skin under the chin; when the rider opens his mouth, he should feel it snug on the chin and hugging the head.

"We’ve watched hundreds of parents putting helmets on their children — many have no idea how to get a proper fit," said Candi Whitsel, helmet business unit director at Bell Sports.

"We’ve added some features in our helmets to make them easier to wear properly, including one-hand-adjust fit systems that keep helmets in place on the head, CamLocks to make adjusting straps easier and PinchGuard buckles to protect tender skin under the chin."

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