In recent years, many U.S. localities have passed laws requiring bike riders to wear helmets. But is compliance the same across all demographic groups? In an article published recently in Injury Epidemiology, titled “Bicycle helmet laws and persistent racial and ethnic helmet use disparities among urban high school students: a repeated cross-sectional analysis,” John D. Kraemer of Georgetown University, found significant differences in helmet law compliance.
Professor Kraemer analyzed school district-level data, taken from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a survey supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In his analysis, Professor Kraemer reports that helmet law compliance was significantly higher among white students than African American, Latino, and Asian students, and that this difference remained consistent across several jurisdictions, including Florida, Dallas, and San Diego. This kind of analysis is important because helmet use has been proven to reduce the chance of injury and the severity of injuries.
Although Professor Kraemer says that the possible causes of these disparities were beyond the scope of this article (and he recommends further research in this area), he does suggest possible policy approaches—or at least policy questions. For example, are the causes because of differences in income? Or are they are result of communication efforts? Professor Kraemer suggests future policies should be tailored considering these questions. Also worth noting, is that Professor Kraemer mentions policy approaches that concentrate on reducing bicycle injuries, not just helmet law compliance, such as improving road infrastructure.
You can read the entire article here.