Don’t Leave Home Without It: Bike Helmet Safety (part 1 of 4)

Bicycle riding is increasing substantially in the United States, and provides good recreation and exercise. Also, with rising fuel costs, many people are turning to cycling as a way to commute to work. Cycling, particularly in traffic, carries certain risks. According to NHTSA and DOT statistics, 726 cyclists died in traffic in 2011 and another 48,000 were injured. By taking a few safety precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming one of these statistics.

According to US Department of Transportation statistics, 91% of bicycle fatalities in 2009 involved bicyclists who were riding without a helmet. Bicycle head injuries far outstrip head injuries from football, baseball, and skateboarding combined. According to Consumer Products Safety Commission statistics. Wearing a helmet greatly reduces your risk of suffering a serious injury in a bicycle accident. Children are particularly susceptible to head injuries from cycling and should also wear helmets.

Most bicycle shops carry a wide array of good bicycle helmets. It is very important, however, that you fit the helmet properly. A bicycle helmet should fit snugly on your head. Check the fit by putting your palm on the top of the helmet and moving it back and forth and from side to side. If the helmet moves easily in either direction, you need either to get a smaller helmet or adjust the helmet so that it is snug. Most reputable bicycle shops will help you fit the helmet. You can also read the manufacturer’s instructions on fitting. A common mistake is to have the helmet too far back on the head, exposing the forehead in a crash.

Whether you’re going out for a quick bike ride with your kids, or a long ride across town, be sure that everyone who rides has a secure, well-fitting helmet.