The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 10, 2005

Plumert To Speak On Children And Bike Safety Oct. 15

It may not be enough to teach a child to look both ways before crossing the street, strap on a helmet and send him out to ride a bike independently. Jodie Plumert, professor of psychology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will explain how immature cognitive abilities affect bike safety in her presentation, "Crossing the Road Safely: Children on Bicycles," on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. in Room 40, Schaeffer Hall. This lecture and discussion session is free and open to the public as part of the college's annual Saturday Scholars series.

In a preview of her Oct. 15 presentation, Plumert will be a guest on "Talk of Iowa," WSUI AM-910, WOI AM-640, KTPR FM-91.1, and KOWI FM-90.7 on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m.

With colleagues in computer science, Plumert developed an interactive bicycle simulator to study children's behavior when crossing traffic-filled intersections. In this safe, virtual environment, she has been able to gather valuable information about the decisions children make and how their cognitive, perceptual and motor skills put them at risk for car-bicycle collisions.

Bicycle crashes are among the most common causes of severe injuries in childhood. Approximately 500,000 bicycle-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year. Motor vehicles are involved in approximately one-third of all bicycle-related brain injuries and in 90 percent of all fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. Importantly, studies have shown that wearing a helmet does not protect bicyclists from serious injury when a high-energy impact occurs. Thus, prevention of serious bicycling injuries cannot be accomplished through helmet use alone, but must also include efforts to prevent collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles. Plumert's research advances our understanding of why such collisions occur, a critical first step in developing such injury-prevention programs.

Plumert joined the UI faculty in 1990 and her research focuses on childhood safety and spatial memory and communication. She holds a doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Saturday Scholars was developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to give members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served. All presentations begin at 10 a.m. in room 40 Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest.

The final lecture in the Saturday Scholars series will be Oct. 29, "Through a Glass Darkly: Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe," by Robert Mutel, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2611.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Carla Carr, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 319-335-2818.