The Impact of Mandatory Helmet-Use Legislation on the Frequency of Cycling to School and Helmet Use Among Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

This paper analyzes changes in the frequency of cycling to school and helmet wearing after the introduction of a mandatory helmet law, and attempts to identify factors associated with the acceptance of helmet use.

Methods:

A mixed-method study was designed with a 7-month follow-up period (April 2014 to November 2014). The initial sample included 262 students (aged 12 to 16 years) from Valencia, Spain. The data were collected by questionnaire and 2 focus-group interviews were conducted.

Results:

No significant changes in cyclingto-school behavior were found during the study period. Cycle helmet use improved, especially among boys, those who used their own bike, and among adolescents who lived within 2 km of school (P < .05 in all cases). The most common reasons given for not using a helmet were social factors. Peer-group pressure had a negative influence on helmet use among adolescents. Participants also indicated that helmet use is inconvenient, in particular among students who used the public bicycle-sharing program.

Conclusions:

The implementation of the helmet-use law did not have a negative impact on the frequency of cycling to school. Our findings provide an empirical basis for designing educational interventions and programs to increase helmet use among adolescents.

Molina-García is with the Dept of Teaching of Musical, Visual, and Corporal Expression, University of Valencia, Spain. Queralt is with the Dept of Nursing, University of Valencia, Spain.

(javier.molina@uv.es)