RYE, N.Y. – Rye Brook police are handing out free bicycle helmets in a bid to reduce head injuries among young children, according to Chief Greg Austin.
The department is partnering with the folks from the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s trauma injury and outreach program and the Children’s Dream Foundation.
The foundation, headquartered in Rye Brook, raises money to help hospitals and health care centers buy equipment for diagnosing and caring for sick or injured children.
Austin said the department has purchased about 50 helmets so far with money from the hospital and foundation.
Officers will be carrying helmets in their patrol cars to give out to any child they spot riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter without one, Austin said.
They also will be giving out advice on the proper use of helmets and will talk to kids, and adults, about the importance of wearing them, he said.
The younger kids will get a little backpack with educational materials to take home to mom and dad, Austin said.
Under state law, anyone younger than 14 must wear an approved helmet when on a bicycle, skateboard or scooter. The maximum penalty for an offense is a $50 fine, but, Austin said, the intent of the program is safety and education not punishing folks. If a parent can prove a helmet has been obtained, the fine will be waived, he said.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries are the most common cause of death and serious disability in bicycle-related crashes. They account for 62 percent of bicycle-related deaths, 33 percent of all bicycle-related emergency department visits, and 67 percent of all bicycle-related hospital admissions involve head injuries, according to CDC stats.
The CDC also says that, depending on the severity of the injury, children who survive may experience long-term physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems.
Only 18 percent of bicyclists wear helmets all, or most, of the time and school-age children are the least likely to wear them, statistics show.
Regardless of the law, it’s just good common sense to wear a properly fitting helmet while bicycling, Austin said, adding, “children living in our community deserve a safe and healthy passage into adulthood."
On another safety-oriented note, Rye Brook police will be conducting car seat inspections in late September at the Rye Brook Fire House, 940 King St., Austin said. Inspectors will show people how to properly install the seats, will correct improperly installed ones and will examine car seats to see if they are broken or have been recalled. The inspections are free and no registration is required.
Austin said a date and time for the event will be announced soon. For more information, call the police department at (914) 937-1020.