Bike Helmet Safety

Dave Love has written an excellent review of bicycle helmet safety. Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in the 1-44 year age group and in 2005, cycling accidents claimed 93 lives. However, there is no data on whether these cyclists were wearing a helmet. According to a recent CDC publication on traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US, this is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality with cyclists (non motor vehicle) accounting for 3% of the the 1.4 million cases/year and presumably many more involved in motor vehicle crashes. Again there is no mention in the data about helmet use.

CDC recommends wearing a helmet for the following activities

  • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle;
  • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
  • Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;
  • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;
  • Riding a horse; or
  • Skiing or snowboarding.

“Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious injury in a bicycle crashes”

and bicycle helmets are the most effective means of reducing bicycle related head injuries. Many cities passed legislation mandating the use of bicycle helmets. Enforced legislation is the most effective method to increase helmet use.

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4 Responses to Bike Helmet Safety

  1. I own a Suomy helmet and I like how they keep your safety in mind. There are a lot of manufacturers out there that can offer you a conglomerate of mere plastic pieces that have been slapped together. The suomy motorcycle helmet can offer you excellent face protection with its Ultra-face shield, infrared heat-blocker, along with permanent anti-fog and hydrophobic coatings! The people at Suomy lead the way when it comes to safety standards in the USA.

  2. […] Helmet Safety Revisited After a recent cycling trip , I decided to update my blog on bike helmet safety. While cycling with a group in the Netherlands, we suddenly encountered a terrific thunderstorm […]

  3. Richard Keatinge says:

    The trouble with bike helmets is that they don’t seem to work – laws have stopped a lot of people cycling and have done nothing for head injury rates, see http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/332/7543/722-a. It appears that helmets break easily, but don’t absorb the impact, see the engineers quoted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet. A broken helmet has simply failed. Helmets have also strangled some young children who were wearing helmets while playing off their bicycles. At my moderately advanced age it’s far too dangerous not to cycle – regular cycling, Danish style, not too far, not too fast, nearly halves the death rate, see http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/160/11/1621 All-Cause Mortality Associated With Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Work, Sports, and Cycling to Work. Andersen et al, Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:1621-1628. Cycling is good and helmets are optional.

    • suelove says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the value of exercise and cycling is a great form of exercise; however, I disagree that helmets are optional. CDC has an excellent review article Injury Control Recommendations: Bicycle Helmets.
      They state that

      “The use of bicycle helmets is effective in preventing head injury”

      They recommend that

      1. Bicycle helmets should be worn by all persons (i.e. bicycle operators and passengers) at any age when bicycling.

      2. Bicycle riders should wear helmets whenever and wherever they ride a bicycle.

      3. Bicycle helmets should meet the standards of ANSI, the Snell Memorial Foundation or ASTM, the American Society of Testing and Materials.

      4. To effectively increase helmet-use rates, states and communities must implement programs that include legislation, education and promotion, enforcement, and program evaluation.

      Both the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Surgeons endorse the use of bicycle helmets.

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