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  1. #1
    burnedthetoast
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    Do helmets help in trailers?

    So I've been wondering lately - does wearing a helmet ACTUALLY do anything for a kid when riding in a trailer? It seems really unlikely their head would come into contact with a solid object even in a worst-case scenario.

    Does anyone have any links to studies on this? Has anyone seen a helmet make a big difference in a trailer situation?

    Please note I'm not questioning the function/validity of helmets in general - just in the case of riding in a trailer.
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride
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  2. #2
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    It teaches good habits.

  3. #3
    Sweep the leg!
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    Yes. As said, it teaches good habits. you won't have to argue with them when their 15 (see a thread in the General Forum).

    You never know when a helmet might come in handy. Read my post about an accident we had and you'll understand why.

    You're leading by example, right? Mom and Dad should have helmets on too.
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  4. #4
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    I went through this same issue a while back with my boy in the chariot trailer. My pediatrician told me that the helmet does more than just protect against hard impacts, but also protects against soft impacts. From what I understand, the danger is the brain inside the skull (especially in a developing young child) and even in a situation where the head might hit a "softer" object, the helmet might assist in slowing the brain movement inside the skull when there is an impact that would stop the head quickly (obviously nothing magical here, just another layer of "crush-able" material that might slow everything down). Also agree with tjhspapa, teaches good habits.

  5. #5
    burnedthetoast
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    To all: Yes, I suppose it teaches good habits. But I have my kids wear helmets when they're on their own bikes, and my wife and I always wear ours - I could see the trailer easily being an exception and not causing a problem.

    Webative - But what is the head going to hit? How is hitting something "soft" different than, for example, falling down (which my kids do on a VERY regular basis, often hitting their heads to some degree)?

    Really what I'm looking for here is:
    - Does it do more than teach good habits?
    - Is a helmet needed in a trailer more than it would be needed walking around, running, in a carseat, etc?
    - Is there even a single study that's been done on helmet use in trailers?
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride
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  6. #6
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    Maybe my case was a little different than yours but I was actually taking my child to daycare. I would travel about 4 miles each way on a road (with bike lane) competing with distracted drivers. The speeds that I would travel would be much higher than the speeds a young child can gain while walking/running. In addition to what I mentioned before, I also had to consider a car (very hard object) hitting the trailer. Aside from that, the pediatrician explained it to me this way; imagine a brain floating in a skull, move that skull quickly in one direction and then stop it immediately. The brain continues to move in the skull. The helmet may actually help to slow down that "stop" whether the head is hitting a hard or soft object. And oh yeah, there are not any "hard objects" but I managed to tip the chariot trailer in a parking lot (made a sharp turn, wheel clipped curb). No child inside at the time, but surely his head would have hit the soft chariot siding and then immediately the hard concrete. Our house rules: walking/jogging with trailer - no helmet required. Biking with trailer - helmet required.

  7. #7
    Former Bike Wrench
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    I clipped a curb with my two kids in the trailer and it flipped. Yes it had a roll cage but they could have banged heads together or my daughter could have hit her head on the hard pavement as the trailer landed on its side. They were both wearing helmets and thankfully other than being scared (no doubt partially thanks to my wife's freak out antics) they were not hurt.

  8. #8
    Sweep the leg!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72 View Post
    (no doubt partially thanks to my wife's freak out antics)
    This^^^

    What is it with wives when they see stuff like trailer flipping over or a kid taking a tumble and skinning a knee?
    Authorities speculate that speed may have been a factor. They are also holding gravity and inertia for questioning.

  9. #9
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    My 4yr old thinks so

    I flipped a Chariot trailer twice when my daughter was four. She was in the middle and wearing a five point harness. The road rash on the plastic window and roof kept her from eating asphalt, but the helmet kept her head from banging the ground. Look all you want for research on the topic or use common sense and put a helmet on your kid.

  10. #10
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    I was actually stopped by a Ranger in a CA state park once and told I would be ticketed if I didn't have a helmet on my grommet. I have seen the flipping scenarios when I worked in a bike shop, but felt it wouldn't happen to us. I got a $40 helmet to avoid the much costlier ticket. IF. And that's a big if, a helmet law is enforced, you might have to pay. I can also see an insurance company denying a claim based on a helmet law. I do know that it has made good habits for both of my kids. I actually get weird looks because I wear mine when pulling our trailer.
    veelz

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  11. #11
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    Another question to ask is "Is there a reason NOT to wear a helmet in a trailer"?
    Even though it has a roll cage, the seats are cloth, so when you roll the trailer, the seat and kid moves towards the ground.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1 View Post
    Another question to ask is "Is there a reason NOT to wear a helmet in a trailer"?
    Ditto. Or, how does a helmet "hurt" in a trailer. Not sure if I buy that a helmet would do anything in the case of a "soft" hit....if you're talking about the momentum of forward movement slamming the brain into the inside of the skull, a helmet wouldn't compress enough to prevent this unless the impact was rather significant. I.e. the helmet is itself a hard material until the impact force exceeds its compression capabilities, which might indeed be low, but are no lower than what I think is meant by a "soft" hit.

    Admittedly, though, I do not always have my 2-year old son in a helmet when cruising in the Chariot....only reason for that is that he often wants nothing to do with a helmet on his head, and there are times when I want to just go rather than fight that resistance. That's absolutely no legitimate excuse, I realize, when it comes to his safety....it is a process, though, getting him to accept wearing one. Ahhh, 2-year olds!

  13. #13
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    i have a croozer trailer and the helmet is pushed too far forward on my 17 month olds head, certainly when hes in the baby sling

  14. #14
    Former Bike Wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeine Powered View Post
    This^^^

    What is it with wives when they see stuff like trailer flipping over or a kid taking a tumble and skinning a knee?
    I don't know

    I now ride with my son and when he bites it I just check that nothing is broken or displaced then tell him to get back on the bike. He bounces real well and has very little fear so it's perfect. No doubt he'll be out ridding his old man in the not too distant future!

  15. #15
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    canvas does not protect from asphalt.. good habits and as mentioned if you hit a car or something hard .. they still flop around in those seatbelts.. even hitting the cage could hurt them.. my little one wears it as so do I..

  16. #16
    New Guy
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    As others have said, teaches good habits and protects from the unexpected. Why wouldnt you?

  17. #17
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    In addition to habits, as others have said, its not too hard to flip a trailer on a curb or trail bump (kid hits head on pavement) or, in a really bad situation, the trailer gets clipped by a car. It happens.

    Personally, I wouldn't mess with the fate of my kids' brains. Traveling on bikes and bike accessories should always involve helmets when there are kids involved (when you are an adult, you can make your own bad decisions). IMHO...

  18. #18
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    I agree with the above comments. Kids should always wear helmets =D

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by yetipop View Post
    I flipped a Chariot trailer twice when my daughter was four. She was in the middle and wearing a five point harness. The road rash on the plastic window and roof kept her from eating asphalt, but the helmet kept her head from banging the ground. Look all you want for research on the topic or use common sense and put a helmet on your kid.
    This. If the helmet pushes a really small kid's head too far forward, maybe use some foam padding to "boost" the child's torso away from the seat so his/her head can rest at a normal angle. After all, you have a lot more leeway to mess around with a bike trailer seat than you do with a car safety seat. The speeds and impact forces a child might endure are so much lower.

    Aside: Car seats should be used as "stock" as possible without extra pads or cozy fleece liners. (I'm a former child seat technician.) Home | SeatCheck.org

    Quote Originally Posted by Caffeine Powered View Post
    This^^^

    What is it with wives when they see stuff like trailer flipping over or a kid taking a tumble and skinning a knee?
    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72 View Post
    I don't know

    I now ride with my son and when he bites it I just check that nothing is broken or displaced then tell him to get back on the bike. He bounces real well and has very little fear so it's perfect. No doubt he'll be out ridding his old man in the not too distant future!
    I guess I'm lucky. My wife's panic instinct has a pretty high threshold. She agrees with me that kids should get dirty, take risks, and get hurt. My kids at the Stowe VT bike park in 2007, ages six and four:





    Stowe bike park 9/23/07: When kids attack

  20. #20
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    This is what happened to my daughter last year in a trailer. My oldest daughter was taking her around the neighborhood and got too close to some gardening blocks, one tire rode up onto the blocks and flipped it. The harness in the trailer is connected to the fabric but not the frame so when it flipped my daughter could come about 9" out of the riding position. This put her well outside of the "rollbar" protection. She wasn't wearing a helmet at the time because it pushed her head forward and she just wouldn't wear it. She would tear it off (even after this happened).

    Since this I have added a ~1" thick pad behind her that ends just below the helmet and picked up a skateboarding/DJ helmet that doesn't have the bulk in the back that traditional biking helmets do. She is somewhat okay with wearing a helmet now. I have also attached the harness to the frame of the trailer so it can't fall out of the frame if flipped. That aspect was a horrible design flaw IMHO.

    So... not only put a helmet on the kid but make sure the harness reasonably holds them into the trailer if flipped.

  21. #21
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    /thread
    Looking for the person who tapped and pinned a set of Shimano A530 pedals - can't find the thread! Shoot me a PM. Thanks!

  22. #22
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    I have had a couple of chariot trailers and i have rolled both of them several times.. My kids were strapped in according to the instructions and did not hit their heads.
    My concern with helmets in trailers has to do with the increased leverage on the neck from the helmet. While some brands include a hollow spot behind the head for a helmet to sit, this is not always the case, and the hollow does not line up with the helmet for all sizes of kid.

  23. #23
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    I bought a burley cub because it has a hard shell bottom and roll bar.

  24. #24
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    Just got back from a short ride and searched this subject because one kid hit her head on side and was crying/angry and then later my older boy bumped his head on his side of trailer and then both of them banging heads together as I simply pedaled hard to get some speed. Schwinn trailer and nothing stout or even dangerous looking near their head but they still weren't happy about it. 2 helmets coming up!

  25. #25
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    Always with the helmet, no matter what...

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