It continues to baffle Dr. Jerome Davis how parents can take such care that their children are wearing helmets before being allowed to climb aboard their bicycles but the parents then get on their own bikes with no protection. What a poor example they're setting for their kids and what a foolhardy way to risk their own lives and health.

Parents take so much care strapping their small children into the seat on the back of their bicycles and carefully adjusting the helmet to achieve as snug a fit as possible, and then they swing onto the bike and pedal off without putting a helmet on their own head. They would go to the ends of the Earth to ensure their child's safety, but they won't step into the garage to retrieve a helmet for themselves.

Davis should know about this seeming disparity in good sense. He spent a career tending to despairing, debilitating and sometimes fatal head injuries. He was a neurosurgeon in Plattsburgh for many years.

In that time, he saw "lots and lots" of serious injuries incurred by bicyclists who foolishly dared to ride without their helmets.

The law now requires everyone 14 and under to wear a helmet while riding a bike. Davis wonders why the State Legislature hasn't shown the good sense to make helmets mandatory for every cyclist. Surely, adult heads are as vulnerable as juvenile ones. A collision with a vehicle or pavement is potentially as devastating for one as for the other. (Vermont has no helmet law.)

On most nice days, you see about as many adult bicyclists without helmets as with them. The serious cyclists always have helmets on, of course. It is the occasionals who take the danger so lightly.

That is probably because the serious cyclists see and understand the gravity of the prospects of injury. Experience is the best teacher in many areas, and this certainly is one of them.

If the adults who are so careless about their own safety could look in on some of the situations neurosurgeon Davis has seen over the years, they would certainly restructure their habits. He has been preaching to the public about the importance of helmets and hounding non-users for decades. He knows how little is required in the way of impact on the brain to damage it. A careless second of decision-making can leave a lamentable scar for life -- or end that life instantly.

It bothers him to hear parents bemoan that they have no control over whether their kids wear a helmet. "What do they mean, no control?' he says. You want to ride your bike? Wear a helmet -- or walk.'"

Don't let this be the year you'll always look back on with regret for not taking that small precaution that could have saved the life or brain function of your child -- or yourself.

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