Do bicycle helmets actually prevent serious brain injuries when bike accidents happen in Poway or elsewhere in Southern California? In other words, do bike helmet laws make cycling safer? And do laws requiring bicycle helmets actually have their intended effect, or are there unintended consequences, too? A recent article in Slate discusses the “cult” of bike helmets and the ways in which this “modern safety obsession” might actually cause more harm than good. What should you know about biking safety, bike helmets, and injuries in Southern California? Our Poway bicycle accident lawyers want to discuss the Slate article and provide you with more information about filing a bicycle injury claim.
Benefits Versus Harms of Bike Helmet Laws
As you may know, California law requires minors (those under the age of 18) to wear a helmet if they are riding a bicycle, but adults aged 18 and older are not required by law to wear a helmet while bicycling in California. Bicycle helmet laws are set by states, which means they vary from state to state. What are the pros and cons of bike helmet laws?
In terms of the benefits of wearing a bicycle helmet, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that “helmets are key when it comes to injury prevention” in a bicycle accident. Indeed, when a bicyclist wears a helmet properly and is involved in a crash or a collision, the helmet “could save your life,” the NSC underscores. The NSC indicates that a “bike helmet is a cyclist’s best line of defense, reducing the risk of head injury by more than 50 percent,” and in terms of severe traumatic brain injuries, “the protective benefit is even higher.” Yet more than 55 percent of adults in the U.S. say that they regularly ride a bicycle without a helmet, even when they are required by law.
While you might assume that bicycle helmet laws result in more riders wearing helmets and avoiding injuries, the Slate article has a different suggestion. According to that article, bike helmets might not actually be as important as we have been led to believe.
Bike Helmets Might Not Actually Reduce a Significant Number of Injuries and Laws Requiring Them Can Have Additional Limitations
The ways that bike helmets are tested may not account for the dynamics of many bicycle accidents that actually occur. Indeed, “lab tests of helmeted dummies in vertical free fall do not capture how most people hit their heads while bicycling.” In addition, those lab tests “fail to capture a whole body in most, which some experts argue underestimates impact forces.” Further, it is likely that bike helmet studies do not accurately capture the ways safety gear protects from head trauma. Indeed, “bicycle helmets have only limited potential to protect from serious head injury in high energy impacts or when a cyclist is overrun by a motor vehicle.”
Moreover, as the article in Slate ultimately suggests, marginalized communities can be disproportionately impacted by bike helmet laws. This is an issue to consider when, ultimately, new research suggests that “wearing a helmet is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.” In other words, unless a cyclist is involved in a single-vehicle (the bicycle) accident and no other parties are involved, whether or not a cyclist is wearing a helmet may not be as important as previous studies have suggested.
Contact a Poway Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a bicycle accident and believe another party was at fault, you could be eligible to file a claim. One of our experienced Poway bike accident lawyers can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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