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- The ARC - California Edition -

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Childhood Brain Injury

Helmet Laws

Protecting the brain from physical damage is an extremely important brain damage prevention strategy. When a brain gets severely damaged by physical impact, death often results. If not death, there usually is lifelong mental impairment. Physical head injury generally occurs in one of two ways.

First: The damage that results when something hard hits the head, or the head hits something solid, such as the ground or a windshield.

Second: The damage that results from some object penetrating the skull.

Either one of these causes may result in localized or widespread damage to the brain.

Physical brain damage is clearly more common among males between the ages of 15-24. Among the total population of the United States, at least two million people sustain a head injury each year.

Safety Belts

According to the National Safety Council, "if every state had strict enforcement laws for safety belt use, more than 1,700 lives would be saved each year".

Forty-nine states (all but New Hampshire) have laws on the books which require the use of safety belts when riding in a motor vehicle. In most states, these laws cover front-seat occupants only. In California, all occupants must use some type of approved restraint.

All 50 states (including New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and the Territories) mandate young children travel in approved child-restraint devices.

But enforcement of these laws is a different matter. Only 14 states provide for "primary" enforcement. Primary enforcement laws allow for law enforcement officers to issue citations whenever they observe an unbelted passenger or driver.

The other states have "secondary" enforcement where a driver can be ticketed for failing to buckle up only if a police officer stops them for another violation.

In 1993, California changed from secondary enforcement of the seat belt law to primary enforcement (AB339-1993). Prior to the change in the law, compliance with the seat belt mandate was in the low 70% range.

In the first year under the law, the compliance rate in California jumped to 83%. According to an observational study conducted in 1997 by the US Department of Transportation, 87% of California drivers are now wearing seat belts more than any other state.

(Close behind California were New Mexico at 85%, Washington at 84%, and North Carolina at 82%.)


During 1997, about 60,000 American kids were injured seriously enough on trampolines to end up in the emergency room. This is twice the number as in the year 1990. Supervision by adults does not adequately protect against these injuries.


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