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Bicycle and Motorcycle Helmets (cont.)

Helmet Use Among Riders

Despite a large body of evidence that helmets save lives and reduce injury among both bicycle and motorcycle riders, a large percentage of riders still do not use them. There are many reasons for lack of use, often related to the circumstances and age of the rider.

A number of riders are still unaware or do not appreciate the risk of riding without a helmet. Adults who were raised in an era before widespread helmet information are at particular risk due to this lack of information.

Children may live in an area where there is little education regarding safety from their parents or from school.

Other reasons for not wearing a helmet include the following:

  • The discomfort of a helmet
  • The lost feeling of freedom
  • The cost of the helmet
  • The influence by peers and parents who may not wear a helmet

Increasing Helmet Use

As with many other aspects of injury prevention, education is the key to long-term helmet use.

  • Education should start at home and include the educational system. Parents should be role models and wear helmets. Parents should encourage their children's friends to wear helmets. Reward your children for wearing helmets.
  • Doctors and community groups can help instill positive behaviors.
  • In the case of motorcycles, most states have adopted laws requiring helmets for riders younger than 14 years of age, and many states have expanded the law to include riders of all ages.
    • No state requires helmets for bicycle riders of all ages, although many states require them for children.
    • Several cities also require bicycle helmets for all riders.
  • As research into rider safety continues, efforts will continue to focus on educating people as to the benefits of helmet use.
  • Young people are particularly influenced by early intervention and education and should reap the reward of fewer severe injuries. Parents should explain the importance of a helmet and then insist on their use.

For a list of helmet laws and age requirements, the Governors Highway Safety Association has an current list as of April 2012.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, DO; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine


Governors Highway Safety Association. Helmet Laws, April 2012.

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Helmet Safety.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2016
Medical Author:

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