Statistics relating to bicycle safety help riders understand the importance of wearing a helmet. Whether riding on the sidewalk, street or while mountain biking, bicycle helmets protect your head and reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that less than half of all Americans who ride bicycles wear helmets. In 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed and 515,000 bicycle-related injuries required emergency-room care. Of those, 26,000 of were some type of traumatic brain injury that might have been prevented by wearing a helmet.
Be Smart on the Road
Many cyclists choose to ride on the road with the flow of traffic. Although bicyclists are allowed by law to share the road in most states, cycling on crowded city streets and busy urban roads increases the risk of bicycle accidents where a motor vehicle is involved. For these cyclists, using a helmet can mean the difference between life and death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head injuries are the cause of death for the majority of bicyclists killed in accidents with automobiles. It is estimated that helmet use reduces the risk of head injury in these cases by 85 percent.
Bicycles in the Big City
Bicycles in large urban areas are a regular part of the traffic flow and have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the road. In cities such as New York, 92 percent of all bicycle deaths occur as a result of crashes with motor vehicles. According to a report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation, Transportation and the New York City Police Department, 74 percent of fatal bicycle accidents between 1996 and 2005 involved a head injury, and 97 percent of those killed were not wearing a helmet.
Rural Bicycle Basics
If heading down a country lane is your idea of a perfect bike ride, a helmet still needs to be on your list of must-have safety equipment. Bumpy roads, steep inclines, trees and unpredictable wildlife can make rural riding a safety challenge. Wearing a helmet protects your head during an unexpected fall or collision with a road hazard. According to the Snell Memorial Foundation and Safety Education Center, 85 percent of bicycle-related head and brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet. The center also reports that the estimated indirect cost for injuries to cyclists not wearing a helmet is $2.3 billion annually.
But I Don’t Want to Wear a Helmet!
Getting kids to wear bicycle helmets can sometimes be a battle. But bicycle helmets are not an option when it comes to keeping your children safe. Starting helmet safety the moment your child sits on his first tricycle or bicycle is the way to create a lifelong helmet wearer. The Snell Memorial Foundation and Safety Education Center reports the number of bicycle head injuries annually that require hospitalization “exceeds the total of all head injury cases -- including those from baseball, football, skateboards, scooters, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, in-line skating and lacrosse.”