I've always been a strong supporter of helmets in all action sports. It just doesn't make any sense to me to not wear a helmet because of the risk. I grew up knowing that and never doubting it. At 3 years old, I was on a motorcycle with training wheels before I could ride a bicycle. In the (responsible) motorcycle community, there's no question about wearing a helmet: you just do it. It feels weird to be on a motorcycle without a helmet. You'd never see a pro motocross rider on the track or trails without a helmet. It just doesn't happen because they understand the risk. The pro motocross racers wear helmets that meet 2 or 3 safety organization standards (DOT, ANSI, Snell), they cost as much as $600, and they replace them often. They understand the value of their head and they protect it accordingly.
Now contrast the motocross world with the rest of the action sports world. You see BMX riders, skateboarders, and scooter riders without helmets all the time and I don't understand why. I can only imagine that they think that the likelihood of a major head injury is lower than the risk in motocross, but that doesn't eliminate the danger. In fact, riders being on wheels that can slip out from under them will often create a whip-cracking effect in the body where the neck and head are the end of the whip. Compound that with the extremely unforgiving concrete or asphalt surfaces and metal copings and you've got a recipe for severe head injuries.
Every year, over 50,000 skateboarders are sent to the hospital with injuries. In 2007, almost 12,000 kids under 14 were treated for head injuries sustained from skateboarding. [http://www.kvue.com/news/Neurosurgeons-are-seeing-more-severe-skateboarding-injuries-121750639.html] You shouldn't even need the numbers to rationalize why you should wear a helmet or why you should make your kid wear a helmet. Just watch what they are doing, assess the risk, look at the concrete, look at their head, and think of their future. From day one on a scooter, my kid was not allowed to ride without a helmet. Now, not only does he always wear a helmet, but he gets after other kids who don't wear their helmets. He's 11 years old and he has it figured out.
This article was prompted by an incident I witnessed this last weekend at the Chehalem Valley Skate Park in Newberg, OR. Our friend Joe Brumitt had a hard fall (the video is below) that slapped the back of his head against the surface of the skate park. I was filming when the incident happened, as was my friend Steve, so we captured the accident from two angles. It was shocking to see someone you know so well take such a hard fall right in front of you. I thought for sure I would be taking him to the hospital, but after a few minutes, he was able to get up and walk away, and a couple of hours later he was fine with no signs of a concussion. I directly attribute Joe's walking away from the crash to the fact that he was wearing a helmet that was securely fastened to his head.
When we first met Joe, he didn't have a helmet and I told him that if he was going to ride with us, he'd need to get one and wear it, even when he wasn't around us. Since then, he's worn a helmet every time he rides and I couldn't be more proud of him for doing so. Like my kid, Joe understands the significant risk of scootering and how important it is to protect your head.
Kids, please wear a helmet, keep the strap buckled, and protect your head. No one is too cool to wear a helmet. It doesn't matter if your riding street or park or whatever. Your head is at risk no matter what you ride. Do you know what isn't cool? Being fed through a tube in your neck and being kept alive on machines because of the brain damage you sustained while you were trying to be cool while not wearing your helmet.
Pros and experienced scooter riders, please wear a helmet not only for your own good, but to set a good example for the kids that are younger than you. And don't make fun of anyone for wearing a helmet. It only worsens the problem and it makes you look pathetic. Be a man and help encourage positive behavior across the board; don't perpetuate the bad stereotypes that action sports are plagued with.
Parents, please provide your kid with a quality helmet (Triple-8 and Pro-Tec are great brands, but there are others as well) and make him or her wear it. Having a kid that is annoyed with you for making him wear a helmet is a lot better than visiting your kid in the hospital because you didn't insist that he wear a helmet. If you're having a hard time affording a helmet for your kid, there may be some local programs to help you out. I've heard of fire stations, law enforcement agencies, and local (city, county, and state) governments all offering assistance programs to provide kids with helmets.
Here is the video of Joe Brumitt's crash: