(Safe2Skoot programme promotes helmet use and a safe scooter culture

Issue 51 – July 2013

With injuries skyrocketing, a new Safekids Safe2Skoot programme promotes helmet use and a safe scooter culture for students travelling to and from school. Helmets are effective in reducing face, head, and traumatic brain injuries to children cycling and scootering.

'While helmets are mandatory by law when cycling, unfortunately scooter riders are not required to use one,' says Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids New Zealand. 'Our advice is that children should always wear a helmet when riding a scooter.

'In the absence of a helmet regulation that protects scooter-loving children, schools can use the Safe2Skoot programme to take a leadership role in keeping children safe when riding scooters to and from school.'

The Safe2Skoot information pack contains a policy document template that will help school principals implement a 'no helmet-no scooter' rule. The pack will also contain promotional material that will encourage safe scooter behaviours when kids travel to and from school:

  • wear correctly fitting helmets that meet an approved safety standard
  • ride on the footpath, and watch out for hidden driveways
  • give way to pedestrians
  • cross roads safely on foot, at pedestrian crossings
  • wear elbow and knee pads

Increasing injuries

According to Safekids' position paper Child Skateboard and Scooter Injury Prevention, the rise in popularity of scootering has been coupled with a sharp increase in scooter-related injury. ACC claims data show that injuries have doubled every year since 2008 – from just 697 claims that year to a staggering 6474 in 2012. Many of these injuries were severe enough to land children in hospital.

'The injuries we see are similar to cycling injuries, such as falls and collisions resulting in head and facial injuries and fractures to the arm and wrist. The most serious cases are traumatic brain injuries that may result in years of treatment, life-long disability, and even death.'

A large proportion of scooter-related injuries involve dart and dash cases, caused by a 'critical behavioural error' where children fail to stop or slow down before attempting to cross the road. This is linked to the developmental processes taking place in children, affecting their ability to make safe decisions in the road environment.

'Compared to an adult, children's senses are not fully developed. Their peripheral vision and hearing is limited, which can lead to them missing critical cues of danger and increasing their risk of a road traffic injury.'

Furthermore, Safekids asks drivers to watch out for child scooter riders. 'Their smaller physical stature can create problems, as it limits the ability for drivers to see them coming out from in between parked cars.'

→ To make sure your school gets a Safekids Safe2Skoot information pack, email VictoriaJ@adhb.govt.nz (subject line 'Safe2Skoot)' with your school's name, address, phone and school contact person

→ New Zealand's standard for Bicycle helmets is AS/NZS 2063:2008

Summarised from a Safekids media release, June 2013.

 

Published in consumer and occupational safety.

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