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Officials encourage safety measures as bike deaths hit record high

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 21, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

Kids ride bicycles as part of the Farr West Freedom Festival parade on Monday, July 5, 2021.

Last year was the deadliest on record for Utah bicycle riders. Fifteen people died from bicycle-related accidents and 49 more suffered serious injuries.

Also last year, Intermountain Health treated more than 2,700 bicycle related injuries in its emergency departments throughout Utah and Idaho.

“Kids and adults can be seriously injured, sometimes fatally, if they fall while riding,” said Dr. D. Millar, trauma director and surgeon at Intermountain Health Utah Valley Hospital. “A brain injury can be life altering and unfortunately, we don’t get to choose how severe of an injury an individual might sustain. The brain is not like a broken bone that we can fix, so we strongly advocate for preventing head injuries.”

Utahns are already out and about on their bikes, and because bicycle-related accidents increase during the summer months, Intermountain Health’s safety and trauma teams are reminding those riders to wear a helmet and practice safety precautions.

Adam Stewart, a 15 year-old member of the Lehi High School Mountain Bike Team, fell and hit his head on the ground during the Utah High School Cycling State Championships. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and advised to follow protocols in order to recover.

“Wearing a helmet definitely prevented a more serious head and brain injury from happening,” the teenager said. “When I ride, I wear my new helmet and make sure it fits by adjusting the straps.”

In order to prevent traumatic injuries as much as possible, Intermountain trauma experts urge wearing helmet that fits properly. The helmet should fit snugly on the head and sit level on the head from back to front.

Also, remember the simple 2-2-2 rule: Make sure there is a two-finger gap between the top of the eyebrow and the front of the helmet, use two fingers to make a v-shape, and place the “v” under the earlobe. This is where the straps should sit. Finally, turn the two fingers sideways and place them flat between the chin and the strap and adjust the strap as needed.

“It’s important that every rider have a good fitting helmet and parents should help their child put it on before every ride, every time,” said Michelle Jamison, community health programs manager at Intermountain Primary Childrens’ Hospital. “And we’re not talking just when you’re bicycling. Helmets are important when riding scooters, dirt bikes, ATVs, roller blades, skateboards, hoverboards, tricycles, and even balance bikes to help protect those heads.”


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