The number of parents who "sometimes" make their kids wear bike helmets has gone down by 10 percent: from 74% to 64% since 2007, according to a recent survey by Safe Kids USA.
Parents who "always" require a helmet dropped from 48- to 42% over the four years. Yet research shows helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, and can reduce severe brain damage by 88%, said Lindsay Hansen of Safe Kids USA.
80% to 90% of all kids own a bike by second grade, and Hansen said biking is a great physical activity if done safely, but it can be dangerous. Bike crashes send 250,000 children to emergency rooms each year, and 100 suffer fatal injuries. Bikes are responsible for more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile.
It's also important, said Hansen, that bikes be well maintained and that kids wear clothes visible to motorists. Helmets should also be worn when skateboarding, rollerblading, or riding a scooter.
Pennsylvania law requires all children under 12 to wear an approved helmet while riding.
The Safe Kids USA website has checklists and safety tips for kids in the car, at home, and near water.