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Petitioners Urge Federal Standards for Bicycle Safety Helmets

May 14, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal standards for safety helmets could help reduce the 1,000 deaths and half-million serious injuries each year in bicycle accidents, a private safety group said Sunday.

Members of the National Safe Kids Campaign said they were presenting a petition Monday to the Consumer Product Safety Commmission to set performance standards for both adult- and child-size helmets.

Bicycle accidents send 500,000 people to hospital emergency rooms annually and cause head injuries to about 116,000 children. Studies show that most could have been prevented or made less severe with a helmet, campaign officials said.

″If we are to prevent thousands of kids from being injured and killed each year while bicycling, we must remove the barriers to helmet use,″ Herta Feely, campaign executive director, said in a statement.

The campaign, supported by the Consumer Federation of America and 34 other organizations, recommends that all children and adults wear helmets when riding any bike.

People often don’t use helmets because they feel they are not needed, doubt their effectiveness or are confused over which ones to buy, Feely said.

Until national standards are adopted, bike riders should use helmets that have safety approval labels from the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation, said campaign officials.

The ANSI and Snell standards test the ability of a helmet to absorb the impact of a collision. Conformity with either standard is voluntary, and not all helmet manufacturers submit their products for testing.

Bike-related injuries and deaths have increased 27 percent over the last decade, Feely said.

Martin R. Eichelberger, campaign chairman, noted that the safety commission has taken several steps to protect children from injuries and deaths from other products.

″Surely, the federal government does not believe that brain trauma and permanent disability are an acceptable reality for America’s children,″ he said.

″With this petition for a helmet standard, we hope to demonstrate to the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration the urgent need to reinstate the commission to its former level of effectiveness,″ Eichelberger said.

He said the campaign also has been working with helmet manufacturers to keep the price of helmets down and has reached agreements with Bell Helmets and Kiwi and Pro-tec helmet distributors to make their products cheaper and more widely available.

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