Car AccidentsCan a Bicycle Helmet Protect You in an Accident with a Car?

April 30, 20240

Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) note that 932 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2020, which is a 44% increase since 2010. This is likely due to the fact that there are more vehicles on the road, greater distractions from smartphones, and the fast-paced lives people lead these days. When taking to the road on a bicycle, it’s important to wear a helmet to prevent head and brain trauma, but can a helmet protect you in a bicycle accident?

How Bicycle Helmets Work

Bicycle helmets are designed to prevent injuries to the head during a fall by dispersing energy on impact. The hard outer shell is made of hard plastic material, and it’s designed to spread the force over a wider area. Working alongside this is the inner lining, made of soft foam designed to cushion the blow to the head.

As well as protecting the head from blunt-force trauma, a helmet helps to prevent lacerations to the face. After all, anything on the floor, including glass and rocks, could make a bicycle accident much more catastrophic.

Limitations of Bicycle Helmets

Bicycle helmets are designed to reduce impact from falls, but that doesn’t mean they’ll protect you in every circumstance. For example, if you’re struck by a car, the force will be much greater than the protective materials are designed to withstand.

Even though helmets protect against head injuries, they don’t take into account all types of injuries. For example, a bicycle helmet wouldn’t do much to prevent rotational head injuries, which happen if the head is suddenly rotated or twisted.

How a bicycle helmet is fitted can also lessen its effectiveness. If it’s fitted too loosely, the protective materials would shift out of place and leave the face/head exposed.

Despite some very obvious limitations, bicycle helmets are still beneficial in car accidents. Research suggests that a helmet can reduce death by 45% and serious head injuries by 85% during a car accident.

How Bicycle Helmets Can Protect You in a Car Accident

While bicycle helmets don’t offer full protection during car collisions, they can still reduce some of the force. The outer shell and inner lining work together to reduce the amount of energy transferred to the skill and brain, which can help prevent traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Additionally, a helmet can protect the face against sharp objects such as glass and other debris from the road or car.

How to Choose a Suitable Bicycle Helmet

When choosing a bicycle helmet, the most important factor is making sure it fits comfortably on your head. You shouldn’t feel any slippage, but it also shouldn’t feel too tight. The helmet should sit level on the head, so avoid fitting it at an angle.

We also recommend searching for safety standard labels as well. Here in America, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 1 certification means a helmet has been tested against federal safety standards and passed. You may also find safety labels for ASTM2, ANSI4, and SNELL3.

There are also many different types of bicycle helmets including mountain bike, road, and commuter helmets, so make sure you buy a helmet designed for the type of cycling you will be doing. Further, you can shop around for certain features including lights, visors, and ventilation systems.

Other Bicycle Safety Precautions

A bicycle helmet won’t guarantee your safety during a collision with a vehicle, but it will reduce your chances of suffering a TBI or lacerations to the face and head. To increase your overall protection on the road, it’s important to follow other safety precautions, including:

  • Riding in a straight line.
  • Obeying the rules of the road.
  • Being prepared by keeping your bike well maintained and having supplies.
  • Using lights at night.
  • Being aware of surroundings at all times.

Alongside these general safety precautions, you can also consider wearing bright clothes with reflective strips, which will make you more visible to vehicles. You can also invest in a bell or horn to make other pedestrians and cyclists aware of your presence.

Lastly, and this is a rule that goes to motor vehicle users as well, you should never ride a bike if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This will lower your inhibitions and reaction times, which will put you in more danger of being involved in a serious collision with a car.

Bicycle helmets can’t guarantee complete protection from serious head injuries during a car collision, but they will make an enormous difference.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle-vehicle collision, visit the Daniel T. Pagliarini Attorney at Law office at 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (808) 745-1592.

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