Bicycling is an increasingly popular form of transportation and exercise that promotes a healthy body and environment. With cycling groups forming around the country and children participating in “Ride to School” programs, it is more important than ever to understand the benefit and necessity of wearing a safety helmet. While 70 percent of all bike crash fatalities result from head injuries, only 25 percent of bicyclists use helmets. Florida is one of 21 states that legally requires all children ages 16 and under to wear headgear.
No matter your age, cycling accidents are never planned or expected, and the consequences of not wearing a helmet can alter your life forever. To avoid tragic circumstances, awareness of particular injuries and the proper use of helmets is vital.
The most common types of serious bicycle injury affect the head and brain. Damage can range from simple cuts and bruises to skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Helmets reduce the risk of these head injuries by up to 88 percent. The following are types of brain trauma common to cyclists not wearing helmets:
- The most minor of TBIs, concussions occur when there is bleeding within the skull or brain. A mild concussion results in feelings of light-headedness or brief loss of consciousness. More serious concussions result in longer periods of unconsciousness. Some people experience varying levels of memory loss, dizziness, headache, nausea, and confusion.
- More severe TBIs cause damage beyond simple concussions. A severe impact from a bicycle accident can cause the brain tissue to bruise or tear within the skull. This can create chronic problems with movement, cognition, or speech. Symptoms are the same as with concussions. An additional symptom is sleeping more than usual after an accident. You may also experience uncharacteristic feelings of anxiety, depression, or anger.
To avoid any kind of brain injury, the helmet you choose should be fitted properly for maximum safety. Be sure of a snug fit with little to no space between the helmet and your head. Have a professional check the fit if there is any doubt. A chin strap and buckle should secure the helmet far enough forward to be over your forehead. Children tend to tilt helmets back, decreasing the level of protection. Be sure to educate them on the safest way to wear it. As all helmets must meet current federal safety standards, older models may no longer be as effective. Upon purchase, it is beneficial to read all instructions carefully after inspecting the new helmet for flaws. In addition, if a helmet has previously sustained an impact, it should be replaced, as its integrity may have been compromised.
Florida Cycling Statistics
Cycling accidents can yield tragic outcomes. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 275 people were killed in cycling accidents involving motor vehicles between 2017 and 2018. During that time there were over 13,000 cyclist injuries. If you have experienced a life-changing bicycle accident, the team at Hancock Injury Attorneys is prepared to fight aggressively for your rights.