You need to be familiar with the traffic and safety laws if you are a cyclist. The most important safety rules for bicycle riders are helmet regulations. Bicyclists do not have to adhere to federal helmet or traffic laws. However, cyclists are subjected to the same traffic laws as motorists. Continue reading to find out more about bicycle helmet laws.
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Helmets and Safety for Bicyclists
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 850 cyclists were killed in bike crashes in 2019. Bicycle trips account to one percent of all U.S. trips in a given year and almost two percent of all traffic deaths.
Bicycling is more dangerous than driving a motor car because bicyclists are overrepresented in fatality and crash statistics. The Pedestrian Bike and Information Center warns that there is no reliable data on bicyclist crash exposure. However, they emphasize that bicycle riding has many health benefits that may outweigh the potential dangers.
The NHTSA recommends that all cyclists, regardless of age, experience or level, wear a helmet to prevent serious injury from a bicycle accident. Head injuries to cyclists can be fatal. Three times more likely to be killed if a cyclist is injured in the head while riding without a helmet than if they are wearing one. However, less than half of cyclists wear helmets and teens are not as likely to do so. Riders give many reasons why they don’t wear helmets. Some include the belief that helmets are too uncomfortable, not socially acceptable, and/or are unnecessary for highly skilled riders.
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Bicycle Helmet Laws
You should consult your state and the municipality where you intend to ride to find out the applicable bicycle laws. You will find the relevant state and city regulations that specify a helmet requirement. There are 22 states and the District of Columbia that have bicycle helmet laws. These laws typically require that anyone under 18 years old (or 16 in certain states) use helmets while riding a bike.
California, for example, requires that riders of 18 and under wear helmets, while West Virginia’s laws specifically target riders younger than 15. Chicago is a popular destination for biking and offers a great public bike program. However, there is no helmet law. New York City requires that all working cyclists wear helmets, as well as children under 13 years old.
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute keeps track of the cities and municipalities that have adopted bicycle safety ordinances. Check the BHSI, your state, and the city websites for the most recent information on bicycle helmet laws.
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Purchase a Helmet
Do your research before you buy a bike helmet. Consumer Reports has a useful guide for buying a bicycle helmet. The BHSI provides more information, including advice for adults with unusually-shaped heads and whether it is worth the extra money to get a helmet. It also explains whether folding helmets are compliant with U.S. safety standards.
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A Legal Case Review is required if you have been injured on a bike.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have been hurt while riding a bike, regardless of whether you were wearing helmets at the time. Once the shock has subsided, however, it is likely that you will be left with unanticipated medical bills, lost earnings, and other expenses. To learn more about your legal options, consult a local legal expert if you have been in an accident involving a bike.