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The Science of Bicycle Helmets: How They Save Lives

bicycle helmet on bike

Bicycling can be dangerous as many motorists typically lack basic road courtesy, there are hazards everywhere you turn, and road conditions and bad weather can make cycling a challenge. One of the things that make the difference between a minor injury and a major one for a cyclist is a helmet. Bicycle helmets have been known to save lives and help keep the roads safe for cyclists for decades.  

How Can Bicycle Helmets Save Lives? 

We have come a long way since the days of going out and riding bikes all day, with nothing standing between our delicate skulls and the hard pavement. Helmet wearing has become commonplace and standard, and most regular cyclists never hit the road without one. 

The International Journal of Epidemiology conducted more than 40 different studies and found that helmets prevented deaths in most bike accidents that involved head injuries. However, they also found that while helmets were effective in preventing skull fractures, they were less effective when it came to preventing concussions. 

Bicyclists suffer more concussions than other people, including footballers. While helmets typically can’t prevent concussions, they can reduce the damage done to the head and face bones, lessening the severity of the concussion. 

According to Reuters, there were 900 deaths and nearly 500,000 emergency room visits because of bicycle-related injuries in 2013. The agency found at the time that wearing a helmet reduced the chance of traumatic brain injury by 52 percent and the risk of death by 44 percent.  

The Science of Bicycle Helmets 

The science behind bike helmets is simple. The helmet is made from hard plastic and is lined with foam. When your head makes contact with a hard object like the ground or a pole, the force of the impact is dissipated, and the trauma to your head is reduced. 

This simple design drastically reduces the amount of force that is applied to the skull and brain. The helmet’s smooth surface allows your head to skid instead of slam, transferring the brunt of the impact to the helmet instead of your head and neck.  

Bike Lanes are Important Too 

Despite widespread helmet usage and laws requiring helmets in almost every state, deaths due to cycling accidents are rising. But nearly all the cyclists who died in accidents in 2018 were cycling on the road, not in a bike lane. Many of those cyclists were hit by drivers who were attempting left turns, driving more than 45 miles per hour, or driving on busy roads with multiple lanes. 

When lawmakers have considered how to prevent bicycle accidents, they have focused on making the roads safer overall. Bike lanes have shown to be the safest place for cyclists, and combined with helmet laws and lowered speed limits, they have made the roads safer for cyclists.

Final Thoughts 

Getting into an accident with a car is no laughing matter for a cyclist. Every year half a million cyclists are either injured or killed when they are hit by cars and trucks. Helmets can make a huge difference in whether the rider is injured or killed. While helmets are not a magic solution, they can drastically reduce the severity of head injuries that most riders experience in an accident.  

If you have been involved in an accident while riding your bike, you may have suffered life-threatening injuries. Cars often exceed the speed limit, use the bike lanes, and make turns without watching for cyclists. So, double-check the road before making any sudden move, and don’t rely on other traffic participants to keep you safe.


Cheryl RoyAbout the Author
Cheryl Roy has built a successful legal career over the years. However, she wanted to reach out to people beyond her practice and decided to do so by writing. Cheryl took it as a personal mission to make legal information more accessible to the public. Therefore, she started sharing her expertise with individuals and businesses facing a legal dilemma. Now she has branched out to many online and offline platforms and works as a collaborative editor for Bader Scott Injury Lawyers.

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