When heading out to ride, you may look at your helmet and wonder if you really need it. According to the CDC, millions of Americans ride bikes, but less than half wear helmets. If you are experienced and ride regularly without any incidences, how big is the risk? Let’s take a look at some stats to find out how important it really is to wear a helmet.
Do you really need a helmet?
The first factor to consider is how much of a difference a helmet makes when a cyclist is in an accident. According to the Insurance Institute for Health and Safety (IIHS), wearing a helmet reduces the odds of a head injury by half and the odds of a neck, face, or head injury by 33%.
Looking at data on U.S. cyclists from the IIHS between 1994-2014, there was an average of 618 deaths per year where the cyclist was not wearing a helmet and 62 deaths per year where the cyclist was. That ends up meaning that, on average, 85% of cyclists who died were not wearing helmets while only about 9% were. For the remaining 6%, it is unknown whether they were wearing a helmet or not. It’s easy to see that a helmet makes a big difference when an accident occurs.
How common are serious cycling accidents?
According to the CDC, there were 494,000 emergency room visits due to cycling-related injuries and over 900 deaths. To put the accidents in perspective, according to data from the Snell Memorial Foundation, the estimated number of bicycling head injuries that require hospitalization each year is higher than the combined total of head injury cases related to lacrosse, skateboarding, ice hockey, kick scooters, horseback riding, football, baseball, in-line skating, and snowboarding.
What causes accidents?
Findings reported by the State of New York City state that nearly all bicyclist deaths (92%) occurred as a result of crashes with motor vehicles.
So the answer is, yes, you need a helmet. If you do get in an accident, which is quite common, it will reduce the probability of head and neck injuries and also reduces the odds you will die.
The current laws.
With this high level of risk, it is surprising that more laws are not enacted. According to IIHS, 21 states and the District of Columbia have helmet laws in place but they only apply to minors. What’s interesting is that 86% of bicyclist deaths are people over the age of 20.
With the lack of laws for adults, it is up to you to make the decision to put the odds in your favor.
Better safe than sorry.
The numbers really leave no room for debate. A helmet protects your head and so can protect your life. Although you might be a strong rider and may have never had an accident, there are other factors when out on the road that are out of your control.
The lowest risk decision is to ALWAYS wear a helmet.
If you have been in a cycling accident due to unsafe road conditions, street defects or hit by a car, you have rights to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. If you have questions or would like to have your case evaluated by a law firm that are proven leaders in protecting cyclists, contact Bike Legal at (800) 449-4850 or online.