Should Parents be Charged if Kids Aren’t Wearing a Bike Helmet?

In response to an article in Globe Life.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that on April 30th, a nine-year-old boy in Sudbury, Ontario was struck by a car after failing to stop at a stop sign. He was not wearing a helmet and is fortunate that his injuries were minor.

Ontario bike laws charge parents and guardians with the responsibility of ensuring that their children wear a bike helmet when on a bike. Parents of the injured Sudbury boy were therefore charged because their son was not wearing a helmet – further sting to an already stressful situation.

The law in BC is similar to that in Ontario. The Motor Vehicle Act states that a parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 must not knowingly permit their child to ride a bike if they are not properly wearing a helmet. Failure to uphold such responsibilities may result in a $100 fine.

The question that the Globe and Mail asks its readers is simple: should parents be charged if kids aren’t wearing bike helmets? Research by Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital suggests that yes, they should. They report that between 1991 and 2002, the average number of bicycle-related deaths for children one to 15 years of age decreased 52 percent, from 13 to six deaths annually. Researchers credit the helmet legislation for the significant decrease in numbers.

We’d like to use the Sudbury bike incident as a reminder for all parents, guardians, and caregivers of the importance of adhering to BC’s bike laws. When your child is ready to turn cyclist, keep the following in mind:

  • Ensure your child is wearing a helmet at all times. Remind them that it’s the law and that the consequence for breaking the law is a lot worse than being grounded for the weekend.
  • Ensure your child’s helmet meets BC standards. If you’re unsure, look for a CSA, ANSI, ASTM, or SNELL stamp of approval somewhere on the helmet itself.
  • Teach your child how to wear their helmet properly. Make sure the helmet is sitting upright, and that all straps are securely fastened.

Don’t let the rules and regulations of helmet use prevent you or your family from getting on a bike. The benefits of cycling are too many. With a little caution and concern for safety, you can take advantage of the outdoors, get some exercise, and enjoy time together as a family.

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Tony Vecchio, K.C.
Anthony (Tony) Vecchio, K.C., founded Slater Vecchio in January 1998. He has been counsel on some of the largest cases in British Columbia.