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I am thinking about buying a trailer for my 1yo daughter. They are quite common in my region (southern Germany) but I haven't seen a single kid with a helmet inside. I know that there is no law that regulates it. Does trailer's manual ask to wear a helmet? Or are there any official (not necessary German) recommendations about wearing it?

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Generally helmets are recommended for carrier usage by manufacturers and governing bodies, although local cultural practices may vary depending on perceived risks.

Helmets are recommended because it is still possible to crash or even roll a trailer, just as it is possible to crash on a bicycle, even if you are riding slowly and in quiet areas. While children should be wearing seat belts within the carrier/trailer, the structures would not provide adequate protection against head injuries, making helmets the last line of defense against a head injury in the case of a crash.

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    As a plus, it may condition them to mate riding a bike and wearing a helmet into adulthood. – mikes Jun 28 '18 at 20:47
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We opted for helmeting our kid whenever we use the trailer in bicycle mode (i.e. not as a pram). This is why:

  1. Our neighbours managed to flip over their trailer once. Kid got a nasty bump on the head, despite having been strapped in.

  2. Establish from the start that bicycles and helmets go together, no discussion.

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    Yeah, it's not incredibly unusual for a child trailer to flip. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 29 '18 at 11:40
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Criggie Sep 11 at 9:25
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No, your kid does not need a helmet, if you have a proper trailer. Proper trailers do have belts and rollover protection. If you don't wear a helmet in your car, you don't need one in a trailer. Smaller kids without proper neck muscles should be seated in a special seat (like the fitting car seats), which doesn't permit helmets.

Manufacturer advice is mixed: Croozer explicitly states the lack of need for helmet protection inside its trailers, Weber advises a helmet a protection against hitting the side or the other kid (Ritschies are two seated models).

As you state to live in southern Germany: if you travel to Austria, helmets are obligatory, even in trailers, until the age of 12.

Opinion: I find the focus on head injuries in biking excessive. For trailers a very sturdy base tub (trailer is hit or trailer is damaged from below) and a secured connection (accidental separation at high speeds or on hard braking) is so much more important to avoid severe injuries.

Unfortunately the last systematic test by Stiftung Warentest is quite old now (2010).

  • I totally agree with your opinion. test.de link is also very useful. – Raz Jun 29 '18 at 14:52
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    Not sure the car analogy is appropriate here, as cars undergo extensive crash testing, have more interior space and have other safety additions such as air bags. The same is not true of bike trailers. Here is the link to Croozer page suggesting helmets are not required with their product, but there is little information on how they came to this conclusion (i.e., the type of testing done). – Rider_X Jun 29 '18 at 18:55
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    Croozer simply applies physics. You are in a protected area, where the chance of a direct head impact is already diminished. Cars are tested more extensively because they go to higher speeds and the energy to be 'dissipated' elsewhere instead of your body rises quadratic with speed. 30 km/h (the top speed people might go responsibly with a trailer) is the lowest speed in car testing and used in side impact tests. Curiously head-head impact scenarios are still not adressed in most cars today. Possibly because wearing a helmet in a limited protected space is a tradeoff. Consider this. – Leonidas Jun 30 '18 at 12:18
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I mainly go with @Leonidas: no helmet for children inside. We have a quality trailer (from Chariot).

I like my children not to wear a helmet in the trailer because:

  • A helmet puts their head in an uncomfortable position (pushes heads down)
  • They may cause (smaller) injuries to their sibling next to them
  • In an accident, the inertia of the helmet may cause a whiplash injury.

Just to emphasize: This is highly controversial where I live (Switzerland). I even do not agree with my wife on this.

As a fact Helmets are not required by law on a bicycle or in a trailer.

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    That is an excellent answer - shows where in the world you're referring to, and that it is not clear-cut. Welcome to Stack Exchange! – Criggie Jun 30 '18 at 22:15
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    A dispute with my wife was the main reason to ask this question. :) – Raz Jul 1 '18 at 5:14
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I too prefer a helmet, but many children that are well within the weight limit are too tall to fit inside with a helmet on (mine, for example, age 4). Most trailers have a 5 point harness and a frame that acts as a roll cage, which combine to reduce the need for a helmet.

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I'm with the others in saying that a helmet is a good idea. Not only in the event of a crash, but also just in getting in the habit of wearing a helmet while out on the bike. For what it's worth, Ontario law requires that all riders under the age of 18 wear a helmet whether they be on a bike, in a carrier or towed in a trailer.

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If I had a child in a trailer, I would put a helmet on them. Not as much needed as in a child seat, but still an added security factor. The kid could bash their head on the struture in a sudden movement of the trailer.

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Always get your child to wear a helmet, rolled the trailer Sunday with my 3-year old grandson inside and he had the worst head wound I have ever seen. Horrific.

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    I hope he's okay! – DavidW Sep 10 at 15:55
  • This is terrible indeed! Could you share the trailer's brand/model? – Raz Nov 20 at 9:26
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we have a 12 month old baby and a Burley Solo. Where we live there is no mandatory rules on helmet wearing for any ages (which is a shame).

I am 100% on board with our baby wearing a helmet. Although the construction is sturdy, and there is a quality belt system, I believe there are too many unknown scenarios to depend solely on the safety/contruction of the trailer and my ability to avoid an accident. So the baby (as well as me) wears a helmet.

I agree the car analogy is erroneous, they are two completely different environments.

I agree that wearing a helmet from the get-go will hopefully instill this practice as a norm for the future.

Additionally the Burley Solo has extra space behind the head specifically for the helmet bulk.

  • Do you also put a helmet on the child (and yourself) for climbing stairs? That is at least as dangerous and likely much more dangerous. – Willeke May 23 at 18:46

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