Bill could raise helmet law age to 18

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Oregon Senate is considering a bill that would require all minors to wear a helmet when riding bikes, trikes and other wheeled modes of transportation.

One of the biggest ways to stay safe on a bike is as easy as putting on a helmet, officials say.

In the hopes of getting more teens to wear the protective headgear, the senate is considering Bill 742, which would increase the mandatory helmet age from under 16 to under 18.

Josep Pedrola, the Douglas County Fire District #2 Fire Marshal, says he thinks everyone should wear them. "I think it's pretty imperative," he said. "Sometimes there is this sense of, 'Well, if I fall, I'll try to land on a good position.' Unfortunately sometimes, what we see out there on the road, is that it doesn't seem to work that well."

Pedrola recalls two bike accidents that happened in Roseburg, that could show how important helmets are.

Several years ago, a child was riding their bike in Roseburg when they fell. The driver behind the child slammed on their brakes, and came to a stop on the child's helmet. "Definitely there, the helmet protected the child," he said.

In another incident, a man flipped over his bike in Stewart Park last year. He was not wearing a helmet and sustained serious injuries, and passed away several days after the accident. "Would the helmet have made a difference? Would it not? It is one of these unknowns," Pedrola said. "But certainly he would have had more of a chance."

As for the senate bill, Pedrola says he supports it. "Definitely, there is a good argument to be made for the helmet to be worn."

KPIC News caught up with some teens at the Roseburg Skate Park who say they always wear a helmet. "I don't want to hit my head, have to go to the hospital or anything," said Alex Hall, 15. "It just feels a lot safer on."

14-year-old Johnethan Phillips agrees. "I just don't want to get a concussion, or get hurt."

Another teen at the skate park, 14-year-old Byron Bass, has another good reason he wears it. "My mom makes me wear this all the time because she doesn't want me to get hurt."

The kids say not everyone buckles on their headgear when they ride, and they're not sure raising the age limit would change that.

Bike safety doesn't just end with wearing a helmet, officials say. They also ask parents to teach their kids about how to safely ride a bicycle.