Riding a bike causes more head injuries than football, baseball

Experts say helmet use can reduce risk by 85 percent

Author: Sarah Mayberry, M.P.H., Local 4 Health Producer, @4goodhealth
Published On: Jun 19 2013 12:31:48 PM EDT

Football injuries tend to make headlines and dominate the debate over sports-related head injuries, but experts say riding a bike actually causes more serious head injuries each year.

Statistics from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons show bike accidents were the cause of 86,000 sports-related head injuries in 2009.  By comparison, football accounted for 47,000 head injuries, and baseball played a role in 38,394.

Cycling was the leading cause of head injuries among kids under age fourteen. 

Part of the reason is the number of participants.  More people ride bicycles each day than play football.  Experts say bikers also have a high risk for colliding with cars, and unlike football players, they don't always wear helmets.   Studies show 90 percent of bicyclists killed in the United States in 2009 were not wearing helmets

According to Safe Kids USA, helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and severe brain injury by 88 percent.

More children are wearing bike helmets in recent years, but there is significant room for improvement.   While approximately 50 percent of U.S. children between 5- and 14-years-old own a helmet, only 25 percent report always wearing it while bicycling.

Eight states and the District of Columbia now require children to wear a helmet while participating in wheeled sports such as riding on scooters, in-line skates or skateboards.