Kids who wear bike helmets in one New York county are getting tickets — with a twist

Some children in Chemung County, New York, weren’t wearing helmets while riding their bikes, so local law enforcement say they decided to take action.

Chemung County Sheriff’s Deputy James Goodwin rewarded 3-year-old Carter with a “ticket” for free ice cream. (Chemung County Sheriff’s Office)

All summer long, police and sheriff’s deputies are ticketing kids who protect their melons — but the “tickets” are for free ice cream.

It’s a simple concept that’s worked for years: Wear a helmet. Get a coupon. Use said coupon for dessert.

The Chemung County Sheriff’s Office said and local law enforcement teamed up with the Southern Tier Bicycle League and scoop shops across town to run the initiative. The league’s Kent Goben said the effort’s been fairly successful in upping the helmet count.

“There’s nothing like seeing the kids do a mad dash on their bicycles to get over [to the officers] and get the coupons,” he told CNN.

Unfortunately for law-abiding parents, Goben said, only kids can score coupons for wearing their headgear. But the promotion may benefit parents’ pockets: New York law requires all bicyclists under 14 to wear a helmet, and guardians can be fined if their children don’t comply.

Helmets can save lives

It’s a cute premise, but helmets really are that important when it comes to bike safety, the World Health Organization said.

In a collision, helmets absorb some of the impact and soften blows against the skull. The force of the impact is distributed over a greater area when cyclists wear helmets too, protecting a single area from receiving the brunt, WHO says.

Not all helmets are created equal. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends helmets with a snug fit so there’s no space between the foam inside and the rider’s head. It shouldn’t sit too low or too high on the head, and straps at the ears and under the chin should help it stay put.

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