As you may have heard (again and again!) the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has predicted that in-line injuries are going to double next year. The projected rise is partly due to the fact that so many novices bought in-lines this year. But, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman, Ann Brown, that's not the main reason.
A great percentage of next year's injuries could be prevented if skaters wore protective gear. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that at a minimum, all skaters should wear a helmet and wrist guards every time they go for a roll. Knee and elbow pads are a must for learning new skills, skating hills, and for such aggressive disciplines as "vert" skating, stairs, etc. Street hockey should be played in full protective gear.
Injuries could be reduced even further if first-timers are given the opportunity to learn skating basics from qualified shop personnel, a local IISA-Certified instructor, or a book such as Get Rolling.
Skaters are dangerous to themselves and to others until they can learn to turn and stop, so they should be provided a safe, traffic-free environment for practicing their first in-line strokes. Ideally, the first few moments on in-lines should be spent on in-door/outdoor carpeting or a dry lawn.
It is the third injury factor that is the least controllable: an attitude that leads to "high risk behavior." Unfortunately, the group least likely to wear protective gear is also the group of skaters most likely to skate outside their skill level.
Youngsters "too cool" to wear a helmet and pads are far too willing to take on hills, stairs and traffic before they have the necessary skills. Though these kids may survive to become future roller hockey stars or Olympic in-line free-stylers, this is still the group that will run the sport's injury numbers up.
In-line skating can be enjoyed safely by people of all ages and backgrounds: 99.35 percent of skaters will skate without injury during the time period the Consumer Product Safety Commission study mentions. As long as we take control of our safety by wearing protective gear, mastering the basics, and skating within our limits, we won't become statistics for future studies.
Now all we need to do is figure out how to reach the folks in that other slice of the safety pie.