5 Reasons to Wear a Bike Helmet
by Andrea Cespedes, Demand Media
Whether you call it a crash cup, brain bucket or road rash repellent, a helmet is an essential part of your cycling gear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 515,000 bicycle injuries required emergency care in 2010. If you become one of these statistics, wearing a bicycle helmet protects one of the most vulnerable parts of your body: your head.
Prevent Head Injury
“American Family Physician” reports that head injuries cause the most fatalities and long-term disabilities when it comes to cycling accidents. Approximately 22 to 47 percent of injured cyclists experience head injuries, which are also responsible for 60 percent of all bike-related deaths. A study published in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal” in 2012 looked at the deaths of 129 cyclists between the years 2006 and 2009. The researchers found that not wearing a helmet greatly increased the risk of sustaining a fatal head injury. In a meta-review of six studies published in the “Cochrane Library” in 2008, researchers found statistically significant decreases in mortality, and head injuries occurred in places that instituted helmet laws. An earlier 2007 review of studies on head injury and helmet use published in “Injury Prevention,” concluded that helmets provide a 63 to 88 percent reduction in the risk of head and brain injury for all ages of cyclists.
Set an Example
Adults, especially parents, who wear helmets when riding set a good example for kids. In the “Journal of Safety Research,” a study published in 2010 found that from 2001 to 2003, just 48 percent of 5- to 14-year-olds wore bike helmets when riding. This age group is at the highest risk of bicycle-related injuries. Older children may be reluctant to wear helmets because they look uncool or are uncomfortable. If you don’t wear one, kids will have trouble seeing the value and importance of wearing a helmet.
Riding on the road in traffic presents numerous hazards. Oftentimes, accidents occur because drivers don’t see the cyclist. A bike helmet with reflective strips can make you more visible to motorists, especially in the pre-dawn or early evening hours. Choose a brightly colored helmet so drivers can see you better during the day as well.
You might not plan to ride in the middle of a storm, but weather can be unpredictable — especially if you are riding a lengthy distance. Wearing a helmet also protects you from weather hazards, including intense sun, hail, and rain. Some manufacturers also sell winter helmets that help keep you warm if you ride in frigid temperatures
Avoid a Ticket
Universal bicycle helmet laws do not exist in the United States. However, 21 states and the District of Columbia have helmet laws that apply to riders younger than 16 years. Some local ordinances do require helmets to be worn by all riders, regardless of age. Make wearing a helmet a habit so you are always in compliance with the law no matter where you are riding.