When should you interfere?

I was walking my dog the other day and passed a boy and his mother on the track. The boy was not wearing a bike hat. My cousin was in an induced coma for 2 weeks over Christmas some years ago, after falling from a horse wearing a hat without a safety harness. He survived, mainly due to the incredible team at Stoke hospital, but the accident has left its mark.

Consequently, I’m a bit of a fan of hats! But back to the boy on the bike. I didn’t stop and say anything, but afterwards I felt as though I should have. Yes, they were only pootling along on a soft track, but that is all it takes.

Here are some statistics from America (you can read the full report here) on the use of hats whilst cycling in children:

Without proper protection, a fall of as little as two feet can result in a skull fracture or other TBI.
Approximately 50 percent of U.S. children between 5- and 14-years-old own a helmet, and only 25 percent report always wearing it while bicycling.
Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent 45,000 head injuries.
Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by at least 45 percent, brain injury by 33 percent, facial injury by 27 percent and fatal injury by 29 percent.

So, should you interfere? I would stop if I saw a child on a pony without a hat, so why didn’t I stop for the biking child? Though it is illegal for a child to ride on the road without a hat; “The Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Act 1990 requires children under 14
years old to wear protective helmets when riding a horse on the road.” Our perception of biking must be that it is safer than riding a horse, but the statistics list cycling as the number one sport to cause head injuries, with horse riding coming in at number 11.

With hindsight I think I will say something, I would rather annoy someone, than turn around and see their child plummet to the ground, hitting their head on a stone.

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