Reprinted With Permission From
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009
By Patty Montagno
Bike safety and the importance of wearing a helmet. "Head injury
is the number one cause of serious disability or death in bike,
rollerblade or skateboard accidents." Contreras said the
bicycle helmet giveaway is part of a statewide effort called Hard
Hats for Little Heads by the Texas Medical Association.
"The program is designed to educate Texas children and their
parents about how to prevent head injuries by wearing a helmet when
bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, and when riding
scooters," he said. "Hundreds of children in the United States die
each year because of a bicycle crash.
Another 300,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for
severe head injuries. Many of these accidents could have been
prevented if the children had worn bicycle helmets. Bicycle helmets
can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, yet
only about 40 percent of cyclists wear one when they ride."
Contreras said Sachse Police Officers Chris Holland, Lester
Price and Andrew Abbott will be assisting during the bike rodeo by
escorting any participating children through a special
bike road course.
"Dr. Contreras is providing a great community service," Holland
said. "Bike rodeos are most kids' first and only exposure to
bicycle safety training. Most parents bring their children
to rodeos. With local businesses and good community members like
Dr. Contreras sponsoring events like this, more children and
parents will be able learn bike safety." Dr. Robert Contreras
Contreras said he believes that taking time to teach children
how to ride safely is another key to prevent accidents and
"Parents should insist that children wear a helmet any time they
ride a bike," he said. "Accidents can happen on sidewalks or bike
trails as well as streets. Children who receive a helmet with their
first bicycle may view wearing the helmet as a natural habit."
Contreras cautioned that a parent should also wear a helmet if
riding a bike with their children.
"The AMA urges all riders to follow traffic laws such as
observing all signs, signals and pavement markings, using correct
hand signals when turning or stopping and using headlights,
taillights, and reflectors when riding after dark," he said.
"Reports also suggest that bikes be checked to make sure they
are adjusted properly and that the brakes are functioning
correctly. It is also advisable to wear bright clothing and
avoiding riding at night and in wet weather."
Contreras said the AMA report gives specific guidelines for
wearing a bicycle helmet.
"To provide maximum protection, a helmet should fit squarely on
top of the head and should not twist or rock from side to side or
front to back when strapped securely," he
"Making helmet use the family rule is a great way to ensure safe
bike riding and safe participation in many sports. Studies have
shown that more than half of children said they would wear a helmet
if their parent insisted."
Contreras stressed that when a family commits to making their
child's environment safer, it shows.
"I strongly believe education should stress health and safety
issues," he said. "It's always important to play it safe. The
bottom line is that responsible bicyclists are involved in fewer