LIVINGSTON, NJ — With school officially out for the summer and quarantine restrictions slowly being lifted, the Livingston Police Department (LPD) has seen an increase in bicyclists of all ages, and particular younger groups of people who have sparked an initiative among Livingston officers to raise awareness about New Jersey’s current helmet laws.

Although previous helmet requirements within the state only applied to those under age 14, Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz reminded residents earlier this week that “excessive numbers of injuries to children above age 14 led to a change in the law, making it apply to anyone under 17.”

The LPD acknowledged that bike riding is a positive physical activity that can be especially helpful during the pandemic, but stressed the need for Livingston parents to be aware of potential dangers associated with this activity and urged them to have conversations with their children about possible consequences of not wearing a helmet.

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“Please don’t take any chances,” said Marshuetz. “No parent wants their child’s health at risk when something as easy as wearing a helmet can prevent devastating injury or even save a life. Obey the law when operating a bicycle, and above all, stay safe.”

New Jersey state law requires that parents be held responsible for minors who are not wearing a helmet. Those parents face fines of $25 to $100 if their child rides a bicycle without a helmet.

Additionally, a bike helmet must be correctly fitted and fastened to assure that it will properly protect the child’s head in the event of a fall. Marshuetz noted that relatively minor bicycle crashes “where injuries would likely have been insignificant if the child had worn a helmet” have instead resulted in serious injuries and even brain damage to some children.

Marshuetz reiterated that all individuals under 17 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet when riding in Livingston and that his officers have been advised to stop anyone not complying with these laws.

“Our officers will stop any child observed operating a bike without a helmet and properly inform them of the safety requirements," the chief said. "This advisory program will continue for several more weeks. After that, we will begin actively enforcing the laws, and parents will face fines if their children are not wearing helmets.”