In celebration of the start of summer, Decatur County Hospital recently partnered with various entities to provide free bicycle helmets to students in the Central Decatur and Lamoni school districts. Thanks to a grant from the Iowa Advisory Council on Brian Injuries, we received 40 free bike helmets, and we matched that award by purchasing an additional 40 helmets. In total, we provided 80 helmets to help students stay safe as they ride their bikes this summer.
On April 14th, we provided 40 helmets to Central Decatur School students during the Spring Family Night. At this event, we were assisted by Leon Police Officer, Marcus Speakman. Officer Speakman, and our Chief Nursing Officer, Mark Mattes fitted the new helmets. Also in attendance, Marketing Director, Shannon Erb provided bicycle safety education to the students and their families.
On May 25th, we visited the Lamoni Schools Exploration Academy to deliver another 40 helmets. In addition to fitting the new helmets with the help of Lamoni Police Chief Jon Barney, Mattes and Erb talked with the students about bicycle safety and rules of the road.
The instruction presented was based on bicycle crash research, and covered these important safety tips from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Wear a bicycle helmet every ride. Properly fitted and buckled helmets save lives. Seventy-five percent of all serious bicycle injuries involve a head injury that might have been prevented, if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet. Many States or jurisdictions have bicycle helmet laws for children. It is highly recommended that bicyclists of all ages wear a helmet designed for bicycling that meets the safety standards set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Parents and other adults who wear helmets protect themselves from potential head injuries and al so set a proper example for others.
- Ride with traffic. The law requires all bicyclists to ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as traffic. Riding against traffic has been shown to be a contributing factor in one out of every five bike/car crashes. This is because riding against traffic puts bicyclists where motorists least expect them. Motorists turning right normally only look for traffic coming from the left, not from the right.
- Stop and look before entering a street. Parents and guardians should explain and practice stopping and looking for traffic at the end of a driveway, parking lot, or alley. Practice by looking left, then right, then left again for traffic; proceed when clear. Riding into the street from a driveway without stopping is the cause of half the bike fatalities to kids 8 and under. It accounts for about one-third of serious crashes involving children 8 to 12.
- Obey signs and signals. Parents and guardians should reinforce that bicyclists must stop at stop signs and red lights and what it means to yield to traffic and pedestrians. Failure to obey signs and signals is another major cause of bicycle/car collisions involving children. Stopping for traffic control devices should be stressed so it becomes a habit.
- Make safe decisions. Your child must stop, look, and decide for him- or herself if the road is clear before exiting a driveway, crossing a street or making a turn. It is not safe to just follow a friend.
- Scan for traffic. Parents and guardians should emphasize looking behind (over his/her shoulder) for traffic before turning or changing positions on the roadway. If there are lots of cars behind, the rider should get off the bike and walk across the intersection using the crosswalks, if available.
If you would like to learn more about bicycle safety, print materials to share with your child, or complete bicycle safety pledges with your family, click here to visit our Bike Safety page to access resources from various state and national organizations.