Vermillion, Wakonda among SD towns to receive bike safety signs

Vermillion, Wakonda among SD towns to receive bike safety signs The next time you hit the bike path you're likely to see a sign reminding you to wear a helmet.

Signs will be going up on bike paths and trails in 58 South Dakota communities, courtesy of the Don't Thump Your Melon. Wear a Helmet, bike safety program. Vermillion and Wakonda are among the towns to receive signs this month.

Don't Thump Your Melon is providing the signs free of charge to communities that requested them and agreed to post them. Don't Thump Your Melon is a partnership involving the Department of Health, the state Office of Highway Safety, Emergency Medical Services for Children, Rapid City Regional Hospital Systems of Care, Avera McKennan Hospital and Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System.

"Each year in this country bike riding sends more children ages 5 to 14 to hospitals emergency rooms than any other sport," said Sherrie Fines, Child Health Coordinator for the Office of Health Promotion. "There are 900 bicycle related deaths every year in the United States, most of them from head injuries. The good news is that wearing bike helmets properly can reduce the risk of head injury as much as 85 percent."

In South Dakota there were 133 injuries and two fatalities relating to bicycle crashes in 1998, according to the state Department of Transportation crash statistics.

Fines said parents can encourage helmet use by wearing helmets themselves and starting the helmet habit at an early age for their children, whether they are riding tricycles or bicycles or are passengers on a parent's bicycle. She said it's important to look for helmets that have been tested and meet the uniform safety standard issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or one or more of the voluntary helmet standards such as ASTM, Snell or ANSI.

More information about choosing and properly fitting a helmet is available on the program web site at http://www.state.sd.us/doh/Famhlth/bike.htm.

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