To reduce bicycle injuries and deaths, the N.C. Department of Transportation is encouraging people across the state to receive free bicycle helmets as part of its annual Bicycle Helmet Initiative.

The program, founded in 2007 and overseen by the Integrated Mobility Division, has provided thousands of helmets to children, including providing more than 30,000 helmets in the last five years.

While less than half of all children typically wear a helmet while biking, they can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by almost 90 percent.

Applicants are encouraged to partner with government and non-government agencies to host bike safety events, such as police and fire departments, parks and recreation departments, health departments, community centers, churches and others.

All applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Feb. 4.

Applicants may request 25, 50, 75, or 100 helmets, and awardees will receive the helmets by April 29.

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