The toddler bike helmet is a popular, but controversial, option for riders who are tired of getting on their bikes with their heads down and their legs hanging off.
Now, an Australian company is introducing a seat belt challenge that will test whether the seat belt on a toddler bicycle is strong enough to keep them from falling off.
Key points:The seat belt is designed to protect children aged 6 to 18 from falling down while riding a bikeThe Australian Safety Council (ASC) is calling for more seat belts for all children under the age of fiveThe company behind the trial, TuffTuff, says it will test the impact of a toddler seat belt buckle against a child’s head hitting the groundThe Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) is asking all parents and carers to provide children with seat belts as a safety precaution when riding a child-sized bike.
But, the ASB says it has no problem with a toddler helmet if it’s not made of high-quality material.
“If it’s made of a material that’s prone to flexing and moving, then it’s going to flex and move,” says safety spokesperson Dr Jennifer McLeod.
“And if it is made of material that is not high-performance and has a low impact resistance, then you could conceivably go through an accident with a child, and the child could be hurt or killed.”
It’s a common question when parents are concerned about their children riding a toddler, and parents and their children are not always aware of the helmet’s limitations, says Dr McLeod, but it is important to make sure the helmet meets safety guidelines.
“We have a number of different safety standards in the Australian capital city of Canberra,” she says.
“Some of those are pretty simple and we just need to ensure that the helmet is designed with the child in mind.”
It was designed by Australian company Tuff tuff, which was founded in 2008 by the former head of safety research at the Australian National University, Dr Peter Schindler.
The helmet’s makers say it’s designed to provide the safety required by children who are riding small bikes, including babies, but not toddlers.
The seatbelt is designed by Tuff to protect toddlers from falling to the ground while riding, while the rear seat is designed for older children who may have a greater tendency to roll.
“Tuff tufs primary purpose is to protect the child from injury and to provide stability for the child whilst they are riding,” says the Tuff website.
“The seat and rear seat are designed to support the child and prevent the child’s body from rolling.”
The company says the helmet has been tested on children aged six to 18, with both the upper and lower legs supported by an elastic band.
It’s not yet clear how many of the 1,000 people who will be tested will wear the helmet, but a survey by the ASAC in April found that of the 500 parents who had purchased the helmet by May 31, most said they did not have any complaints about the product.
“Most of the parents that have contacted us said that they liked the helmet,” says Mr McLeod of the ASBC.
“I think it was very reassuring to hear from them, because it shows they actually care about safety, and they know what they’re buying.”
The seat was first tested on a child aged five and is now being tested on three children.
“Our goal is to do the full-scale trial with children aged seven to 13,” says Tuff Tuff’s marketing manager, James Fauci.
“They’re going to be wearing it from birth and it’s part of our overall safety strategy to reduce the risk of injury for the children that are riding.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also set up a website, SeatbeltChallenge.org, where people can post their own videos of themselves riding in a toddler-sized helmet.
“This is the first of its kind that will be using a real-world scenario to test a seatbelt buckle,” Dr McLege says.
It has been a tough few months for parents, and for those who are concerned for their children, she says there are some good options to help with the trial.
“A good seat belt will not only protect children from serious injuries, but also protect parents and other adults from a number different injuries,” she said.
“For example, if a child falls off a bike seat and the adult rides off the bike, they are in a much more vulnerable position.”
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