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Bicycle helmets can limit but not prevent brain injuries

Road safety authorities in Ontario say increased numbers of children and adult cyclists wear helmets since legislation requires bicyclists to wear such protection. However, they also believe that fewer brain injuries will occur if even more children wear helmets. For that reason, they underscore the importance of parents setting the example by never riding their bicycles without wearing protective gear.

Drivers have a significant responsibility of looking out for children on bicycles and slowing down considerably when they drive in residential areas and routes children use to cycle to school. Authorities say children struck by cars that travelled at speeds as low as 30 to 40 km/h suffered few or no injuries. Typical injuries children suffer in bicycle accidents include fractured bones, but the most severe injuries are those that involve head trauma and cause brain injuries.

Although most children are ready to ride bicycles very early, the thinking and physical skills required for them to ride on the road typically only develop when they are about 10 years old. Younger children should never ride unaccompanied by parents or older children, and they should never ride in or near traffic -- even if they wear bike helmets. The reasons for most injuries to children on bicycles include inexperience, riding too fast, riding in or near traffic and failing to wear protective gear.

When a negligent auto driver injures a child cyclist in Ontario, it underscores the fact that such accidents can happen despite the best efforts of parents to teach their children about cycling safety. Sadly, when this happens and the child suffers brain injuries, the consequences can be life changing. Victims of such accidents often require ongoing therapy, and parents might have to deal with many unanticipated expenses. Fortunately, the civil justice system of the province allows parents of injured children to pursue claims for financial relief, and legal counsel can be retained to provide valuable support and guidance along every step of the way.

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