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Bicycle Safety (cont.)

Legislation Promoting Safety

Perhaps the easiest step a rider can take to prevent bicycle-related injury and death is to wear a helmet. Unfortunately, many riders disregard this, placing themselves at great risk.

  • Mandatory helmet laws have been shown to increase helmet use, which reduces significantly the incidence and severity of head injuries.
    • Mandatory use of helmets has proven to reduce severe injuries by almost 85% in addition to cutting the number of bicycle-related fatalities.
    • Children wear a protective helmet almost twice as much as adults, probably due to parental insistence. Nevertheless, younger children have a higher proportion of head injuries than older children.
    • A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration poll reported that 50% of bicyclists wear a helmet for at least some trips, with 35% using them for all or most trips.
    • The majority of bicyclists report wearing a helmet for safety reasons - a majority because of insistence of a parent or spouse and some because of laws, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    • Helmets must be used whenever riding a bicycle! Children should be monitored to be certain that they do not avoid helmet use because of peer pressure.
    • It is important that the helmet fits properly and is worn correctly. A proper fit helps a bicyclist realize the full benefit of helmet use. A poorly fitting helmet provides significantly less protection.
  • Currently, only 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring helmet use by young bicyclists.
    • Local communities have enacted ordinances mandating use of helmets while bicycling.
    • There is added benefit for all helmet owners: helmets can be used during other activities with a potential for head injury, such as riding scooters and skateboards as well as participating in water sports.
  • Nevertheless, most bicyclists killed in 2006 were reportedly not wearing a protective helmet.
  • It is estimated that a majority of bicycle-related head injury deaths could be prevented by the use of a protective helmet.

Safety in Off-Road Conditions

  • Bicycle riding has evolved from a mode of transportation to a widely enjoyed hobby and recreational sport. Off-road riding and racing has increased in popularity over the past decade.
  • The majority of off-road injuries involve cuts and scrapes to the arms and legs. However, off-road or all-terrain cyclists sustain more severe injuries - such as fractures and dislocations - than road cyclists.
  • Off-road cyclists are more likely to wear a protective helmet and therefore less likely to have face and head injuries.

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


"Bicycle Safety"
MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2016

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