Collisions between bicycles and cars have spiked by nearly 20 percent statewide over the past several years, according to the California Highway Patrol. In an effort to promote bicycle safety, California lawmakers introduced a controversial proposal in early 2015 that would make bicycle helmets mandatory for all cyclists statewide. Existing California law provides that helmets are only required for bicyclists under the age of 18, with violators facing fines of up to $25.
The proposal has been met with criticism by some members of the Los Angeles biking community, who say efforts to protect bikers would be better focused on making a safer environment for cyclists, for instance by creating more protected bike lanes and dedicated bike paths. Whether or not the law requires it, however, there are some compelling reasons to wear a helmet the next time you take your bike out for a spin in the Los Angeles area.
Preventing head injuries
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), bicyclists make up about 2 percent of all traffic fatalities each year nationwide. For a majority of cyclists who are killed in traffic accidents, the most serious injuries sustained are those affecting the head and brain. Wearing a helmet is the most effective step you can take to minimize the risk of head injuries in the event of a bicycle crash. According to a 2007 review of bike helmet research published in the journal Injury Prevention, helmet use reduces the risk of bike-related head and brain injuries by up to 88 percent.
Improving your visibility
Wearing a bike helmet does more than just help keep you safe in the event of a crash – it may even help you avoid accidents altogether by increasing your visibility. Especially in the dimly lit hours at dawn and dusk, many collisions between cars and bikes occur because drivers fail to see or notice cyclists on the road. A brightly colored helmet can help drivers see you better during the day, while a helmet equipped with reflective strips or battery-powered lights can help make you more visible in low light conditions.
Setting a good example
Another reason to consider wearing a bike helmet, even if you are not otherwise inclined to do so, is that it can help set a positive example to others. This can be especially important for parents, teachers and others who have close contact with young children, since kids are often more likely to wear a helmet when they see their role models doing so. Thus, wearing a helmet may not only keep you safe, it could help keep your loved ones safe as well.
Seek legal advice after a bike accident
If you or your child has been hurt in a bicycle accident, be sure to seek advice from a skilled personal injury lawyer to learn about the steps you can take to protect your legal rights. Depending on the circumstances, you may have the option of pursuing financial compensation for the medical expenses, lost income and other damages resulting from the accident.
Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 30 years of experience in representing accident victims injured in all forms of bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.