College Students’ Sense Of Cycling Capability Deters Helmet Use: Implications For Safety Helmet Ordinances

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Ronald E. Cossman
Ronald D. Williams Jr
Barry P. Hunt
Catherine Ali Fratesi
Sarah Beth Slinkard
Timothy F. Day


Bicycle Helmets, Helmet Ordinances, Safety Education, College Student Health


Proponents frequently cite increased injury protection as a reason for supporting bicycle helmet ordinances; yet, many cyclists oppose such policies. In this study, six focus groups of college students discussed cycling behaviors and attitudes toward using bicycle safety helmets, and perceptions of the local helmet ordinance. The usual concerns were voiced such as “inconvenience” and “helmet hair”. Participants reported very high confidence in their cycling ability and their ability to avoid a crash which might require a helmet. They failed to take into account external factors or the actions of others which may increase risk for injury. They also did not understand how health insurance spreads the financial risk for traumatic events. These findings have implications for designing education campaigns to promote college student health, as well as initiatives for helmet ordinance advocacy. 


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