Ever since the introduction of the bicycle helmet to the mass market, many people have debated their effectiveness. Do they really protect cyclists?
This is a long-lasting – and ongoing – debate in the cycling community. Perspectives vary, but there are a few things that all cyclists should know.
Studies show helmets reduce injuries
Head and brain injuries are some of the most common serious injuries resulting from a bicycle accident. Depending on the type of collision, bicyclists might fall sideways or even over the handlebars. Without a helmet, their heads could be exposed to concrete or even road verges.
Several studies over the years indicate that helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by roughly 70% to 85%. They add another protective layer to reduce the impact of a collision.
However, the right helmet is what makes a difference
According to Consumer Reports, not just any helmet will help protect bicyclists and prevent head injuries. Bicyclists must use the right helmet to stay safe.
This generally means that the helmet should:
- Meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Go through proper safety testing, and ideally have an appropriate safety rating
- Be fitted to the individual properly
Consumer Reports also advises that bicyclists should consider replacing their helmets at least every five years, to ensure they remain effective and able to protect cyclists’ heads from trauma.
What does the law say?
In Pennsylvania, only cyclists 12 and under must wear a helmet when riding. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation otherwise encourages helmet use but does not require it, for riders above the age of 12.
However, cyclists are already some of the most vulnerable road users. Even if they follow all traffic laws and ride safely, they still face the risk of motorists not paying attention and failing to see them. Wearing the proper helmet can likely make a difference in a bicyclist’s safety, especially when they share the road with reckless drivers.