Florida's bicycle helmet law and a bicycle safety educational program: did they help?

J Emerg Nurs. 1999 Dec;25(6):496-500. doi: 10.1016/s0099-1767(99)70013-9.


Introduction: This research studied the effectiveness of Florida's mandatory helmet law for children and a community bicycle safety campaign promoting helmet use. Children's use of helmets before and after the law's enactment and the type and extent of head injuries sustained in bicycle crashes were evaluated.

Methods: The trauma and medical records from Broward General Medical Center's Pediatric Referral Trauma Center provided demographic data, injury severity scores, and information on the type and extent of head injuries sustained. Data were compared using independent sample t tests and Pearson chi(2) statistics with.05 as the significance level.

Results: Each group consisted of 72 children, predominantly 7- to 12-year-old boys. Known helmet use rose from 5.6% to 20.8%, with children aged 10 to 12 years having the greatest increase in helmet use (27%). Helmet use rose in urban and suburban areas. Changes in the type and extent of head injuries were mixed. Injury severity scores were higher for nonhelmeted children in the after-law group.

Discussion: Although helmet use increased, especially among the 7- to 12-year-olds targeted during the bicycle safety campaigns, bicycle helmet use remains too low, and nonhelmeted children continue to have a higher risk for serious injuries. Community bicycle safety programs that promote helmet use remain an important adjunct to mandatory helmet use laws.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Bicycling / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Head Protective Devices* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*