Bicycle Helmet Safety FAQ’s

Should bicyclists wear a helmet whenever they ride? Do helmets really prevent death or serious injury? Is the cost and safety benefit of a helmet worthwhile?

About half of all bicyclist must apparently believe “NO!” to these questions.

Are bicycle helmets effective in preventing death and head injuries?

In 2007, about 67% of bicyclists who died had suffered a fatal brain injury.  Helmets decrease the risk of head and brain injury by 70 to 88 percent.  Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of facial injury to the upper and mid face by 65 percent.  Helmets help prevent fractures and injuries to the head, neck, face, and jaws.  It has been posited that 75 percent of bicycle fatalities among children could be prevented with a bicycle helmet.   In the studies conducted, the conclusion is reached that wearing an industry-approved bicycle helmet significantly reduces the risk of head injury during a crash or collision.

What makes a safe and effective bicycle helmet?

A good bicycle helmet is made of dense crushable material that provides extra time and space to absorb impact energy in a crash. Be sure to check out the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s overview for “Bicycle Helmets for the 2012 Season”.

Is wearing your approved bicycle helmet enough?

Not if your helmet doesn’t fit properly.  The statistics bear this out.  One recent study found that 60% of cyclist now wear a bicycle helmet, but that 15.3% of the helmeted cyclists were wearing their helmet incorrectly or were using a non-bicycle helmet.  This study also found that the majority of adults incorrectly wore their helmets. Wearing your helmet properly (snug chin strap, helmet shifted forward on the head, proper-fitting helmet) is the most effective way the cyclist can prevent serious head injury or death from a bicycle accident.

Why do those riders in the Tour De France not wear helmets?

THEY DO – NOW.  Historically, cycling race regulations are set by the Union Cycliste Internationale, which historically did not mandate helmet usage.  For this reason, most professional cyclists did not wear helmets because they claimed the weight was a disadvantage, especially during steep uphill courses.  However, in 2003, new rules went into effect.  The 2003 rules require pro cyclists to wear a helmet at all times, except they may remove their helmets during the final climb.  It has now been almost a decade where all pro cyclists wear helmets.

Bicyclist who don’t wear helmets must feel helmets are either unnecessary for safety, too expensive, hot and/or ugly.  We must try to educate and convince these bicyclists of the safety merits of wearing a bicycle helmet.  We must also provide access to inexpensive helmets and assistance in making sure the helmets fit property. All bicyclists should wear approved and properly-fitting helmets to reduce the risk of head injuries, facial injuries, and death.