Advance View: Helmets save heads and lives

Schools are releasing their students for the summer – maybe a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, because of the labour dispute between teachers and their employers.

Add that to increasingly warm weather making this the most attractive season for outdoor activity, it is worth drawing attention to the link between head injuries and wheels.

Open-air activities involving wheels – including cycling, inline skating, and skateboarding – are major contributors to serious to fatal injuries.

The Canada Safety Council notes that, in 2011, Canada saw 52 cyclist fatalities. While that’s down from 62 the year before, according to Transport Canada, it’s a terrible – and avoidable loss of mostly young lives.

Two-thirds of all fatal bicycle collisions involve the head, and while the most serious incidents have historically involved cyclists colliding with motor vehicles, vehicular collisions are involved in less than one in five reported cycling injuries. Most occur from falls or collisions with stationary objects, other cyclists, or pedestrians.  

Statistics are less readily available with regards to skateboarding and inline skating, according to the Safety Council, but the risks are self-evident when it comes to traveling at decent speeds with minimal protection.  

A 2012 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that cyclists who do not wear a helmet are three times more likely to suffer fatal brain trauma than those who wear protective headgear.

Cycling helmets are best when riding a bicycle or inline skates.

Skateboarding helmets are specifically designed to protect more of the back of the head.

And both work best when they’re kept in good condition.

Just a heads-up for those who want summer to stay fun.

– B.G.

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