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January 1997

Effect of Education and Legislation on Bicycle Helmet Use in a Multiracial Population

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, The New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, Flushing.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(1):41-44. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170380045007

Objective:  To observe the effect of new legislation and a boroughwide bicycle helmet educational campaign on bicycle helmet use in a multiracial population.

Design:  A prospective observational study. Observations were made at randomly selected sites in Queens (study group) and Brooklyn (control group), NY, in May 1994, before a New York State law affecting both boroughs was enacted and before a bicycle helmet educational campaign was conducted in Queens. Variables observed included age, sex, race, and whether the child was wearing a bicycle helmet while riding. A bicycle helmet campaign was conducted in late May 1994. New York State bicycle helmet law was effected on June 1, 1994, requiring all children aged 1 to 14 years to wear helmets while riding their bicycles. Follow-up observations were made at the same sites in July or August 1994.

Setting:  Queens County, New York, which is the most racially diverse county in the United States, according to 1990 census data.

Participants:  Cross-sectional observations of children aged 1 to 14 years made at randomly selected sites.

Interventions:  A boroughwide bicycle helmet educational campaign conducted in May 1994 in Queens.

Results:  The overall use of helmets increased from 4.7% (13/276) to 13.9% (44/316) (P<.001) in the study group. Helmet use decreased from 5.6% (19/342) to 4.2% (13/312) (P=.10) in the control group during the same period.

Conclusions:  In a multiracial population, a statistically significant (P<.001) increase of helmet use was demonstrated after a campaign and distribution of educational material. Legislation alone is inadequate for ensuring increased bicycle helmet use.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:41-44