We all know that wearing a bicycle helmet is a good thing, right? By the way some people act, you might think that this rule of riding has fallen by the wayside in recent years. However, for those that value their safety, as well as that of their loved ones, there is no better way to stay safe on a bike than to always wear a helmet. Sometimes we need to be reminded just how important this singular safety step is. Here we will educate you just a bit about some true bicycle helmet statistics and facts. Most of these come to us via the CDC, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After a short run down of some surprising facts, we will tell you more about prevention.
1. 3 of 10 Americans own their own bicycle.
2. Millions ride their bikes to work on a daily basis.
3. Most cyclists ride in the states where they live. The top three states for bike riders include California, Illinois, and New York.
4. 1,000 people die each year in bicycling accidents.
5. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85%. The majority of deaths on bicycles occur due to head injuries (around 62%).
6. Around 7% of all brain related injuries that happen in the US are related to cycling.
7. Bicyclist at the highest risk of death happen to be from 15-24 years old, and 45 years and older.
8. Of those killed in 2012 (469), over 60% of them were not wearing helmets.
9. Most to die were also men.
10. The summer time and early autumn are the months when bike deaths spike in number.
11. People are at higher risk of injury or death while riding in urban areas are twice as likely to get killed.
12. 6 pm to 9 pm are the times when cyclists are most likely to be involved in accidents.
13. In areas like NYC, something like 92% of bicycle accidents also involve motorists. This is one reason why designated bike lanes can make cycling in the big city safer.
14. Surprisingly, alcohol is still an issue with cyclists. Nearly 25% of most people who were killed in bicycle crashes were drunk.
15. Those riding in traffic are at a greater risk than those who choose to ride on sidewalks.
16. Most accidents do not take place at intersections, as many would believe.
17. In many areas, wearing a helmet while riding your bike is the law. More and more local governments, as well as state governments, are now passing laws and ordinances to make this so.
18. Those who wear high visibility clothing appropriate for the lighting, setting, and time of day along with a bike helmet are far less likely to be injured or killed while riding their bikes.
19. 50,000 people each year are hospitalized due to injury on a bicycle.
20. Of these, the injuries that do not involve helmets cost the public over $2 billion dollars per year.
21. Although not as likely to die, children and adolescents are the most likely to be injured while riding a bike without a helmet. These groups account for 6 of 10 injuries seen in emergency rooms in the US.
22. The total number of injuries sustained by younger children/young adults on bicycles is more than in any other sport, combined. Even with high contact sports added in, this is still true.
23. Cheap helmets are just as effective as expensive ones, as long as they both meet recommendations from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
24. Most accidents do not take place at intersections, as many would believe.
So what are we to make of these statistics? First of all, we think it is clear: wearing a bicycle helmet is much simpler, cheaper, and easier than sustaining an injury or accident to the head. Getting riders of all ages to wear their helmets is equally important. There is no doubt that a lot of these accidents could be prevented by not just helmets and other preventative gear, but with those and a combination of common sense and support from local governments.
If you think that riding your bike without a helmet is OK, imagine this scenario: your child wants to play football. (At this point, some of you would balk. Football is, after all, a dangerous sport.) You agree to let your child play football. Then you proceed to let them go to practices and games without wearing their helmet onto the field. This seems totally ludicrous, we agree. But every time you go riding without a helmet (or allow your child to do the same) you are actually doing something even more dangerous than the above proposed scenario. Statistics prove this to be true.
Other metaphorical situations can be compared to not wearing a helmet while biking. Would you drive a car without brakes on the freeway, knowingly? Would you think about jumping out of a plane without a parachute? Touching a downed power line? Walking outside in a thunderstorm while holding a lightning rod to the sky? All of these situations and decisions are incredibly silly and ignorant, we admit. But they are just as silly as riding your bicycle without your helmet.
Just remember that every time you decide to ride your bike, you are truly taking your life into your own hands. You must do the proper things to keep yourself and your cycling loved ones safe. Be sure that everyone you ride with (or if you ride yourself) follows all local safety and traffic laws. Do your best to wear the right sort of reflective clothing while riding. Do not ride at night, if possible. And if you do, be extra cautious. Always serve as a role model of safety for those around you by following all the local safety laws and taking your own precautions.
Start bike safety and accident prevention early. It is never too soon to talk to your children about being safe on their bike. As a matter of fact, you should have that conversation before the very first time they ride their bicycle. If possible, try to enlist your child’s school or daycare in a safety class that also covers the topic of bike safety. A safety fair or demonstration is a great way to illustrate the importance of safety to children. Barring that, there are also plenty of online videos and resources that you can use with riders of all ages to help them better understand how they can protect themselves.
If your local government currently has no safety laws in place about wearing bike helmets while riders of all ages ride, talk to some of your local authority figures to see what you can do to change this. Support any initiatives to help motorists become more aware of cyclists on the road. Also be sure that you express support for any initiative that will lead to designated bike lanes in your community. You may be able to petition your city council or county government to change the lack of any of these things, if needed. Get started with preventing bicycle injuries and death today. Your body, loved ones, and community may all thank you for it, later.