Bicycles are a prominent transport mode in the United States among other countries. In the US, the majority of pupils in the second grade own bicycles (Bergenstal, Davis, Sikora, Paulson, & Whiteman, 2012). However, bike riding has been a major source of trauma and deaths in the country as a result of the related accidents. Almost a half of the bicycle-related deaths and over 75% of all head injury cases involve children who are below 15 years old (Bergenstal et al., 2012).
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In Canada, a significant number of trauma cases are also as a result of bicycle accidents (Grenier et al., 2013). The scenario is almost similar in other countries and is a pressing issue. This paper describes various strategies that can effectively increase helmet wearing when riding bicycles among third-grade students. Although the use of a helmet while riding bicycles can protect a cyclist from head injuries, only approximately 15% of American children aged less than 15 years wear the protective gear as they cycle.
A target audience can have increased awareness of a health problem or solution just through communication. In this case, the audience comprise of the students, their parents, and caregivers since they have a direct or indirect influence on the use of the protective gear (McKenzie & Smelter, 2001).
Bicycle safety education curriculum, parents or guardians’ counseling, as well as mandatory helmet legislation, are some of the communication platforms that can be effective strategies for increasing the use of helmet among the pupils (Theurer & Bhavsar, 2013).
The prevention of the bicycle-related injuries needs active parents or caregivers’ interventions to ensure that children make the helmet use their habit every time while riding. Therefore, making the parents and the caregivers aware of their role in promoting helmet use among their children can lead to an increased use of the protective hat. The sensitization on the importance of helmet use and its influence on children’s protective riding measures can also be imperative. The intervention would also include counseling the parents or caregivers about bicycle injury prevention measures concerning their children. Some laws hold parents accountable for their children’s safety and bringing them to the parents’ attention would be part of the intervention.
The introduction of bicycle safety education curriculum in schools would also be an effective intervention. Education programs involving active learning such as role playing and inference exercises as well as feedback result in a significant increase in the knowledge of students regarding safety and the related behaviors (Lachapelle, Noland, & Von Hagen, 2013). The BikeSafe educational curriculum, police led UK motorcycle project, resulted in improved bike safety knowledge among middle school aged children (Hooshmand, Hotz, Neilson, & Chandler, 2014).
Other than a face-to-face interaction between the children and the teachers, the use of computer technology like videos showing real-life bike scenarios involving helmet use would be a vital component of the program. Lastly, mandatory helmet legislation could be used as an intervention to improve the safety measure. Although not in all cases, strict implementation of the relevant laws mostly leads to an increased rate of helmet wearing among children and youth (Hagel & Yanchar, 2013). In Ontario, the enactment of helmet law covering cyclists aged below 18 years saw the use of helmet among children aged between five to fourteen years increase by 20%.
In conclusion, although the use of helmet among third-grade students has not reached the desirable standards, something can be done for its improvement. Bicycle safety education curriculum, parents or guardians’ counseling, as well as mandatory helmet legislation, can be effective interventions for the enhancement. However, a single application of any of the three may not be fully effective; therefore, a combination of the three of them would lead to the best results.
Bergenstal, J., Davis, S. M., Sikora, R., Paulson, D., & Whiteman, C. (2012). Pediatric bicycle injury prevention and the effect of helmet use: The West Virginia experience. West Virginia Medical Journal, 108(3), 78-81.
Grenier, T., Deckelbaum, D. L., Boulva, K., Drudi, L., Feyz, M., Rodrigue, N., & Razek, T. (2013). A descriptive study of bicycle helmet use in Montreal, 2011. Can J Public Health, 104(5), 1-10.
Hagel, B. E., & Yanchar, N. L. (2013). Bicycle helmet use in Canada: The need for legislation to reduce the risk of head injury. Paediatrics & Child Health, 18(9), 1-3.
Hooshmand, J., Hotz, G., Neilson, V., & Chandler, L. (2014). BikeSafe: Evaluating a bicycle safety program for middle school aged children. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 66, 182-186.
Lachapelle, U., Noland, R. B., & Von Hagen, L. A. (2013). Teaching children about bicycle safety: An evaluation of the New Jersey Bike School program. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 52, 237-249.
McKenzie, J.F., & Smelter, J. (2001). Planning, implementing, and evaluating health promotion programs: A primer (3rd ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.
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Theurer, W. M., & Bhavsar, A. K. (2013). Prevention of unintentional childhood injury. American Family Physician, 87(7), 12-15.