Twenty-one states in the U.S.and the District of Columbia have laws that require at least some cyclists to use helmets. Typically these Cycling Safety laws apply to children under the age of 16. Because these laws are not always enforced rigorously, helmet use is more positively affected by a general acceptance of helmets within the community. In other words, the more cyclists there are who use helmets, the more likely it is that any individual will choose to wear one. However, there are some compelling reasons why all cyclists should protect their heads with the best helmets possible – i.e. with a certified bicycle helmet..
What Statistics Show About The Risks Of Cycling
For all the health and environmental benefits of cycling, the sport tops the list of activities that cause head injuries in both adults and children. According to statistics, cycling accounts for almost twice the number of head injuries that are treated in the ER as did the next most dangerous sport (football). Cycling also tops the list of sports most likely to cause head injuries to children aged 14 and under, again at nearly twice the rate of football, the number-two sport.
Cycling head injuries aren’t the worst of it. In 2014, more than 700 people in the U.S. died in cycling accidents. Fortunately, deaths among children have decreased considerably over the past 40 years; however, there has been in marked increase in fatalities among riders over the age of 20. In fact, adult deaths have tripled since 1975, perhaps due to the “Lance Armstrong effect,” which brought many older riders, in particular, to the sport.
How Helmets Reduce The Risk Of Injury And Death
There is no question that helmet use decreases the risk of fatalities and serious injuries in a bicycle accident. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by about 85%. In the vast majority – more than 80% – of fatalities, the rider is not wearing a helmet. The IIHS says that the average cyclist who dies in an accident is a male over the age of 18 who is riding in the evening without a helmet.
Helmets protect the head and brain by shielding it from impact with a hard outer surface and then absorbing the impact with an inner layer of cushioning foam. The foam can give the head a few extra milliseconds to stop after the moment of impact, and even this fraction of a second is enough to decrease the risk of death or permanent brain damage. It’s important to know that all helmets are not constructed identically, even though they look the same to most consumers. However, there are industry standards to distinguish helmets and their performance capabilities.
Why Purchase Certified Cycling Helmets
In a nutshell, Cycling helmet certification means that a bicycle helmet meets certain safety standards. Although there are various standard-setting organizations in the U.S. and around the world, all bicycle helmets sold in the U.S. must be certified according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. These standards include impact resistance, head coverage (with more coverage required for young children than for adults), strap strength, and stability. Cycling helmet testing is a rigorous process.
To test impact, the helmet is fitted onto a headform and dropped with guided force onto anvils in varying shapes to represent types of road surfaces, like flat pavement and curbs. To be certified, a helmet must register less than 300 g’s on impact. The testing is conducted at different temperatures and in water to make sure that the helmet performs well in any weather conditions. Straps are tested by hanging them or dropping them with weights to simulate yanking. It’s important to know that a helmet is certified until it is involved in crash; a damaged helmet may no longer be protective and should be replaced.
Some helmets sold in the U.S. are also certified by European standards. Although these standards permit a thinner helmet, they account for field of vision, shock absorption, retention system properties, and specific construction requirements.
Why Construction Matters
The materials and construction of a helmet not only affect the helmet’s safety; they also determine the helmet’s comfort and visibility. The helmet’s outer shell and inner foam determine how much impact the rider’s head will receive. Although CPSC standards require less than 300 g’s to prevent major head injuries, some manufacturers aim for even less impact to reduce less serious injuries as well. The construction also determines the fit, which is integral to safety. A well-designed helmet with a properly adjusted strap will stay in place even during a crash. Moreover, the comfort of a helmet is important because a rider is more likely to wear a helmet that is not too hot or heavy or poorly fitted to his or her head.
The PedalDeals Certified Helmet
Many helmets claim that they are certified to CE standard, but when we asked for proof from manufacturers, most were not very forthcoming. This helmet has certification to both European and American standards, as shown on the product page. It also has a built in rear-light and weighs a mere 260g. This is the one I wear myself!