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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Save Face, Wear a Helmet!

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

A new study found motorcyclists are less than half as likely to break a nose or dent a jaw when wearing helmets.  Citing a rise in the number of motorcycles on the road and a rise in the number of motorcycle-related collisions, the University of California, Los Angeles conducted a study of the relationship between helmet use and facial injuries following traffic collisions.

The study, led by Dr. Joseph Cromptom and published in the Archives of Surgery, examined the records of over 46,000 bikers sent to hospitals nationwide following collisions between 2002 and 2005.  77% of bikers were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.  Overall, approximately 1,700 bikers suffered nose injuries, 2,300 had eye injuries and 800 busted their jawbones. Another 1,400 had facial bruises following the collision.  However, helmeted riders were less likely to sustain these injuries and were 60% less likely to suffer any serious face-related injury compared to helmet-free riders,

Information regarding the type of helmets worn was not available, so the researchers could not determine whether the presence of a face shield reduced the risk of injury.  Dr. Peter Layde, co-director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who was not involved in the UCLA study, said face shields likely play some role in preventing injury, but helmets can also absorb blows to the side of the head and prevent fractures there from extending to the face.

Despite numerous studies demonstrating the safety benefits of motorcycle helmets, the debate whether state governments should require motorcyclists to wear helmets continues. The number of states with mandatory helmet laws has actually decreased in the last few decades, due to lobbying from the motorcycle community.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. have mandatory helmet laws for all riders, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Twenty-eight states only require some bikers – such as those under 21 or under 18 – to wear a helmet.  Three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, have no motorcycle helmet laws.

“I think [the UCLA study] certainly supports the idea that there should be mandatory helmet laws,” Crompton, who rides a motorcycle, told Reuters Health.

Bicycle Safety Tips For Your Child

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

Bicycle friendly cities like Seattle see die-hard cyclists that proudly brave the wind and rain in the dark days of winter.  With summer finally here, though, the cyclists hitting the street increases dramatically, as does the risk for bicycle collisions.   This risk is even greater with children, who are less capable of making quick decisions and are less visible to motorists.   Here are some tips on bicycle safety and children.

A Properly Fitted Helmet Can Save A Life

Helmets protect your biggest asset: your brain.  A cheap investment in a helmet can save your child’s life, but take the time to ensure that the helmet fits properly.  Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), following these easy steps will help you fit and wear your helmet to maximum safety:

Step 1[1]: Size.  Measure your child’s head for approximate size.  Try the helmet on for a snug fit.  While the helmet sits flat on the top of the head, make sure that the helmet doesn’t rock from side to side.  In your child’s helmet, remove the padding when your child’s head grows.   Remember to select a helmet that fits your child’s head now, not one to “grow into.”

Step 2: Position.  The helmet should sit level on the top of your head and low on the forehead; one to two fingers above the eyebrow.  The helmet must cover the forehead.

Step 3: Buckles: Center the buckle under the chin.  Tighten for snugness so no more than one finger can fit under the strap.

Step 4: Side Straps: Adjust the straps on both sides to form a “V” under and in front of the ears.  Lock the slider.

Step 5: Final Fitting: Open your mouth wide: does the helmet pull down?  If not, tighten the chin strap.  Make sure the helmet does not rock back and forth or forward into the eyes.  If so, re-adjust the side straps and chin strap.

Also, be sure to replace a helmet whenever it has been involved in a crash, even if it appears unharmed.

Helpful Safety Tips

Before your child‘s feet hit the pedals, check the equipment to ensure that the tires are properly inflated and that the brakes work.  Make sure that your child wears bright, neon or fluorescent colors while riding (day or night) to increase visibility.  Consider installing light reflectors on the bike and helmet.  Even with these precautions, a child should avoid riding at night at all times.

Per the NHSTA, the safest place for adults to ride is on the street, following the same rules of the road as motorists.  Washington law requires that bicyclists always ride with the flow of traffic.[2]  However, children under 10 years old are not mature enough to make decisions necessary to ride safely in the street.  Children under 10 are much better off riding on the sidewalk.  When riding on the sidewalk, a bicycle rider has all of the rights and responsibilities of any pedestrian.[3]  Have a discussion with your children about alerting nearby pedestrians on sidewalks that they are approaching, watching for vehicles exiting driveways, and entering the street at corners, instead of between parked cars.   A bell or horn can be a very helpful tool for your child’s bike, as well a fun one, too.

 

 



[1] Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute: www.danscomp.com/products/charts/helmetchart.html

[2] RCW 46.61.100.

[3] RCW 46.61.755

Distracted Driving: Teens Aren't the Only Culprits

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Who are the most distracted drivers?  You might be surprised.  According to a recent poll, college educated and higher income drivers scored highest in almost every category of “distracted” driving.  Poll statistics indicate ninety-three percent of drivers engaging in some form of distracted driving, whether by it is texting, talking on a cell phone, or eating behind the wheel.  Four in 10 licensed motorists admit that driving while distracted has caused them to swerve into another lane, slam on the brakes, narrowly avoid an accident, or being involved in a motor vehicle collision.   This number rose to 49% for drivers with college degrees and 43% for drivers earning more than $75,000 per year.

Drivers with higher education and/or income levels scored highest in almost every “distracted” category of the poll:

  • 41% of well-educated drivers and 35% of high-income drivers say they’ve swerved out of their lane as a result of distracted driving, versus 32% of all drivers polled.
  • 37% of drivers with a college degree and 33% in the highest income bracket report slamming on their brakes because of distractions, compared with 29% of all motorists polled.
  • 26% of well-educated drivers and 22% of higher income drivers reported distracted driving caused them to nearly get into an accident, compared with 18% of all drivers polled.
  • 22% of well-educated drivers and 18% of high-income drivers admit they’ve been ticketed for distracted driving, compared to 12% of all drivers polled.
  • 20% of well-educated drivers and 16% of well-off drivers say they’ve been involved in a minor accident because of distracted driving, compared with 11% of all motorists polled.
  • 17% of well-educated motorists and 13% of high-income drivers have been in a serious accident as a result of distracted driving, versus 8% of all drivers polled.

Music and food cause of most of the driving distractions:

  •  92% of highly educated drivers and 95% of high-income drivers say they’ve adjusted a radio, CD player or iPod while driving, compared to 87% of all adult drivers polled.
  • 83% of highly educated and high-income drivers admit tp eating behind the wheel, compared with 77% of all respondents.
  • 80% of highly educated drivers and 85% of high-income drivers say they’ve used a cell phone while driving, compared to 74% for all drivers.
  • 39% of highly educated drivers and high-income drivers admit to kissing or engaging in other romantic physical contact while driving, compared to 29% of all drivers who acknowledge being amorous behind the wheel.
  • 33% of highly educated and high-income drivers say they’ve read while driving, versus 20% of all drivers polled.

Please do your part to keep the roads safe by recognizing and eliminating your own dangerous driving habits and encouraging others to do the same.