Our Opinion: Bicycle helmets save lives. Just ask Cohen Groenwold.
Cohen Groenwold's story is testimonial to the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. His life was literally saved by wearing one.
While bicycling on his Baxter road Saturday, May 11, 4-year-old Cohen was accidentally run over by a U.S. Postal Service mail truck. More precisely, it was Cohen's head, protected by the helmet he was wearing, that was run over.
The helmet was shattered into pieces. Cohen, thankfully, only ended up with road rash, and scratches on his back and scalp.
The accident could have been so much worse had Cohen not been wearing a helmet.
"The helmet saved his life," said Christopher Groenwold, Cohen's father, in a May 14 story in the Brainerd Dispatch. "When the vehicle rolled over his head, if he didn't have his helmet on he wouldn't be playing here today."
It's also a vivid reminder of why law enforcement and safety groups stress such protective gear, especially for kids.
"We're always preaching to kids to wear their helmets," Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted told the Brainerd Dispatch. "It's getting warm out and people are starting to hop on their bicycles, so this is a good reminder for people to wear their helmets."
We are reminded every year of the importance of not only wearing bicycle helmets but all sorts of safety equipment. We realize not everyone will listen, but we certainly hope Cohen's story will bring about new awareness and changes of heart.
The Minnesota Safety Council notes bike helmets, worn correctly, are the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death in bicycle crashes. A bicycle helmet should fit snugly and feel comfortable; be positioned to cover as much of the head as possible, including the forehead; and always be buckled.
Common misconceptions noted by the council about bicycle helmets include only children need helmets and helmets don't need to be worn on trails. The council's advice is everyone should wear a bicycle helmet wherever they ride.
We're betting the same advice could be given about motorcycles helmets, using seat belts or wearing life jackets. We know people won't always follow such advice, but we hope stories like Cohen's will lead to more people paying attention.
Just because a law doesn't always require us to use such safety gear, doesn't mean we shouldn't. Common practices soon become common routines—routines that could save a life. Cohen Groenwold is living proof of that. What could have been a lifetime of sorrow for his family was instead only a short-lived scare thanks to the bicycle helmet he was wearing.