Brain Food: Bicycle Helmets are Good for Your Noggin

Alternative means of transportation in the forms of a bicycle, scooter–motorized and non motorized–skateboard, or in-line or roller skates, are great for recreation and they can be enjoyed alone or with others. They also provide an added benefit to your overall health, the environment–especially the people powered options–and they can aid in avoiding heavy commuter traffic.

Whether you are the primary operator or a passenger, for those under the age of 18 in California there are existing laws AB 2989 and AB 3077, that prohibit anyone not wearing a properly fitted and fastened helmet from operating these modes of transportation while traveling on a street, bike-way, or any other public bicycle path or trail.

Lawmakers took current research into consideration when imposing these mandates for young people because children ages 14 and under are five times more likely to sustain injuries in a bicycle-related crash than any other group according to Stanford Children’s Health. Furthermore, bicycle helmets have been proven to reduce the number of severe (e.g., traumatic brain injury) and fatal head injuries to children in the event of a crash.

As a vital piece of safety gear for riders of all ages and because March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, it is important to remember that a helmet can only provide protection to the wearer if it is worn and fastened properly.  Below are a few tips to help with selecting an appropriate helmet:

  • The helmet does not need to be expensive to be effective.
  • All helmets are not the same. Pick the right helmet for the activity e.g., there are bike helmets and multi-sport helmets, but you would not wear a football helmet to ride a bike or skateboard.
  • Be sure to check that the helmet is United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliant.
  • If it does not fit – do not get it! Keep looking until you find the proper size.
  • New helmets are best if you are uncertain of the history of a used helmet.
  • A helmet must be retired if it has been involved in a serious fall or crash because the integrity of the helmet structure has been compromised. If in doubt, throw it out.  Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Hard or soft-shell helmets are fine if they meet the CPSC standards. The major difference is style and comfort.

In the event of an accident involving a blow to the head, it is best to follow up with a licensed health care provider licensed through the California Department of Consumer Affairs.  To find a provider near you, visit DCA’s License Search here.

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