SEASIDE - Wearing a bike helmet does more than protect your child from injury.

It may also protect you from a fine. Oregon law states that any child under age 16 must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, skateboard, scooter or in-line skates. Seaside Police are actively warning or citing kids who are not wearing their helmets. The citation comes with a $25 fine, Cpl. William Barnes said.

"Wearing a helmet is just general common-sense safety," Barnes said. "Too many kids have lost teeth or had head injuries from not wearing a helmet."

The increase in traffic is another important reason to wear a helmet. More cars on the road means a higher risk for kids on bikes or skateboards.

"Some drivers really exhibit a lack of patience and common courtesy for kids," Barnes said. "It's not like it was 15 years ago."

If a child is under age 11, police will automatically issue the citation to the parents. If a child is age 11 to 15, the officer may choose to cite either the child or the parents, Barnes said.

The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute estimates that about 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms every year and of those, about 67,000 have head injuries. Between 45 and 88 percent of head injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

Helmets are available for under $25 at most stores. The Seaside Police Department also offers a program to get helmets to needy children in Seaside. For more information, call the department at 738-6311.

For more information about helmet safety, go to (www.bhsi.org) or (www.safekids.org).

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