Local News

Bike Helmets Now Required By Law

Posted October 1, 2001 9:39 a.m. EDT

— If your kids do not have a bike helmet to wear, you may want to get them one before you let them ride again. If you do not, they could find themselves talking to a police officer.

Starting Oct. 1, any child who rides a bike in North Carolina must wear a helmet. The law applies to kids under age 16. Law enforcement officials will have their work cut out for them because less than 20 percent of all bicyclists in our state wear helmets on a regular basis.

The statistics speak for themselves. Bicycle helmets prevent 60 percent of head injury deaths and reduce overall head injuries by 85 percent. That is the big reason behind the change in law.

A year after a similar law was passed in New Jersey, the number of bicycle related deaths dropped by 80 percent and helmet use increased from three percent to 70 percent.

Local law enforcement agencies will have a big role to make sure everyone follows the rules.

"We have awarded over

$280,000 in grants

which will purchase over 40,000 helmets. Law enforcement agencies will organize events and will pass them out in the neighborhoods," says Lyndo Tippett, N.C. Transportation Secretary.

Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Durham police departments, as well as the Durham County Sheriff's Office, each received $2,000.

In all, 220 law enforcement agencies received grant money which will go towards sponsoring bike rodeos and other events to help get the word out and to help make sure everyone can buy a helmet.

Kids who are caught without helmets will be counseled by officers.

There are also some bonuses for obeying the new law. Police officers will hand out gift certificates for a free hamburger at Burger King or McDonald's.