Talking about the use of helmets for safety on bicycles can make people emotional or even defensive. Many competitive cyclists train in helmets because the races that they compete in require protective gear. Casual cyclists often forgo helmets, stating that the biggest risk is the bad behavior of another person in traffic, which a helmet cannot reduce.
While that may be technically true, the danger posed by distracted or impaired motorists should serve to underscore the value of wearing a helmet every time someone goes out for a ride. After all, the goal isn’t to simply protect oneself from injuries caused by a mistake on the road but also from the negligence and poor decisions of others.
Helmets don’t prevent crashes, but they do save lives
A cyclist with a helmet on is no less likely than someone who does not wear a helmet to end up struck by a motorist or otherwise injured in a cycling crash, such as a dooring incident with a stopped vehicle. However, a person wearing a helmet when an incident occurs that knocks them off the bike has a roughly two-thirds reduction in their risk of severe injury.
Those wearing helmets can and likely will still suffer significant injuries in a crash, but the helmet will help protect their skull from fractures and may diminish the injuries that they suffer in the collision. Even though bike helmets don’t undergo safety testing to withstand the force of an impact from a car, they can reduce the risk of impact with the road or items in the surrounding area near a crash.
How can cyclists protect themselves?
Investing in safety gear, like a new helmet whenever the foam or plastic in an existing helmet shows signs of aging is a smart move for anyone who routinely rides bikes on public roads. Investing invisibility gear could also be a smart move, as many bicycle car collisions are the result of a motorist failing to notice a cyclist near them on the road.
Taking steps to reduce the severity of a cycling collision won’t protect someone from getting hurt on the road, but it may diminish the severity of the consequences they experience. As will seeking legal guidance concerning any compensation to which a victim may be rightfully entitled.