Bicycle helmets are mandatory from today for under-12s and any adult accompanying a helmetless child – or carrying them on the back of a bicycle – may face a fine of €90.
Until now, cycle helmets had only been recommended but the Sécurité Routière made them obligatory as a ‘soft measure’ that would also encourage adults to start wearing them.
Helmets can cut the risk of a serious head injury by 70% and Emmanuel Barbe, ministerial delegate for Sécurité Routière, said they hoped children would start asking their parents why they were not wearing a helmet.
Last year cycle accidents rose 7% and, with 5.5million youngsters using bikes regularly, there are fears for their safety. From 2011 to 2015 there were 1,178 under-12s involved in reported bicycle accidents – with 26 killed and 442 hospitalised.
A blow to the head can be very serious at any age but a helmet drastically cuts the risk of being knocked out – falling from 98% at speeds of 10kph while helmetless to 0.1% for a child in a helmet – and protects against face injuries, reducing the risk by 28%.
However, the Fédération des Usagers de la Bicyclette said a better move would be for children at primary school to learn to ride in traffic properly – because a helmet does not prevent accidents.
Helmets with the CE quality mark can be bought from about €10 but those tested for road use will also have the NF EN 1078 mark. Decent ones cost between €35 and €50 and families that ski may find helmets with both NF EN 1078 and the ski-use NF EN 1077 mark.
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