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Kids' Use of Bike Helmets, Seatbelts Less Than Parents Think

Study of fourth and fifth graders shows gap between reality and perception.

MONDAY, May 31, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Children aren't using their bicycle helmets and seatbelts as often as their parents believe they are, claims a study in the current issue of Injury Control and Safety Promotion.

The study of 731 fourth and fifth graders and 329 of their parents found 70 percent of the parents said their children always wear a bike helmet while riding. But only 51 percent of the children reported that they actually wear a bike helmet.

While 20 percent of the children said they never wear a bicycle helmet, only 4 percent of parents said their children never use a helmet.

The study also found discrepancies between parents and children about the use of seatbelts. Parents said their children use a seatbelt 92 percent of the time while the children said they used a seatbelt 70 percent of the time.

About 80 percent of the parents said their children always sit in the vehicle's back seat. But only 43 percent of the children said they always sit in the back seat.

"There's a real void between the availability of good safety devices and actual use by parents and children," study author Dr. Peter Erlich, a pediatric surgeon with the University of Michigan Health System, said in a prepared statement.

"This study shows the need to target injury prevention programs to parents and children together. We can't rely solely on parental reports of children's safety behaviors. Injury prevention must be treated as a family issue," he added.

Erlich did the study while at the Children's Hospital of West Virginia.

More information

The National Safe Kids Campaign has more about child safety.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, May 2004
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