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Real kids should always wear their bike helmets

Consumer Reports News: September 22, 2011 10:38 AM

Dolphin Tale is a touching new family movie about the rescue and rehabilitation of a Florida dolphin who loses part of her tail. Too bad the film makes a child-safety goof by repeatedly showing the 11-year-old lead character riding his bike without a helmet.

While I watched a preview of the movie last weekend with my wife and 8-year-old daughter, (the movie opens this Friday), I was surprised to see several scenes in which the movie's young protagonist, Sawyer, rides his bike helmetless through the streets of Clearwater, Florida. (We called Warner Brothers, which is releasing Dolphin Tale, seeking comment on the helmetless riding the film portrays, but have yet to receive a response.)

Don Mays, Consumer Reports' product safety director, characterizes wearing a helmet as the single most important safety measure a child can take when riding a bike. Nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries and bike helmets can reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by 85 percent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (, in 2009, about 13 percent of the bicyclists who died on U.S. roads were under age 16.

In 2009, Florida was the state with the most cyclist fatalities. That year, 7,282 children 5 to 14 were killed or injured and treated in a hospital due to bicycle-related crashes.

“Bike helmets are essential safety gear for all cyclists, whatever their age -- and regardless of what you see on the big screen” says Mays.

Paul Reynolds


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