Bicycle helmet use should be legislated for all ages in all provinces and territories, Canadian pediatricians say.
Evidence is strong that bicycle helmet legislation increases use of the safety gear and there's ample research that legislation reduces the risk of bicycle-related head injury, the Canadian Pediatric Society said Friday.
The group's position statement says only British Columbia and the Maritime provinces currently meet the recommendations on bicycle helmet legislation.
The society wants all provinces and territories to enact the legislation before the start of the 2014 bike season.
Bicycling-related injuries among Canadian children and youth account for about four per cent of all injuries in emergency departments, studies suggest.
"Everyone is at risk for head injury, regardless of age group," said Dr. Brent Hagel, a co-author of the statement and an epidemiologist in injury prevention at the University of Calgary. "Children see adults and often adopt similar behaviours, so if we can get helmets on adults then children and adolescents will be more likely to wear them too," he added in a release.
The society also recommended:
- Rolling out legislation using social marketing and education to raise awareness on the importance of wearing bicycle helmets.
- Implementing other strategies to prevent bicycle injuries, such as separating riders from vehicle traffic with bicycle lanes and adding paths for commuter and recreational cycling, at the same time.
- Adopting sales tax exemptions or rebates and federal tax credits to make buying bicycle helmets less expensive.
Currently, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the territories have no legislation on bike helmets, the group said. In Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, bike helmet legislation only applies to children and youth.