Although news coverage makes it seem like football accidents are the biggest cause of sports-related head injuries, it is actually cycling that holds the number one spot. Cycling accidents were responsible for 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009. By comparison, football accounted for 47,000 of those head injuries, and baseball played a role in 38,394. Cycling was also the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under the age of 14 with 40,272 injuries, almost double the 21,878 head injuries incurred among youth football players.
Many states do not have helmet safety laws. Riding a bike without a helmet may feel more comfortable but it dramatically increases the risk for head injury. As bicycling has grown in popularity over the last decade, so too have the amount of cycling accidents; they now account for 900 deaths, 23,000 hospital admissions and 580,000 visits to the Emergency room every year.
Head injuries are a major culprit in cycling accidents; approximately 75 percent of bicyclists who die from a cycling accident, die of head injuries.
Truthfully, the biggest risk to cyclists is riding on the road without a helmet and colliding with a motor vehicle. Depending on the region, between 75 and 90 percent of American bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing a helmet; incidentally most were middle-aged men. The best thing a city can do for cycling safety is to build a designated bike lane with a barrier; streets with special bike lanes have 40 percent fewer crashes that end in death or a serious head injury. State or city laws for helmet use while cycling are also helpful in encouraging their use which can prevent serious head injuries when worn correctly.
Effectiveness of Bicycle Helmets
Long-term studies have found that helmets decrease the risk of head injury by 69 percent, brain injury by 65 percent, and severe brain injury by 74 percent. Helmets work well in preventing brain injuries for cyclists of all ages including children but they do not offer significant protection to the lower face. Any form of helmet including hard, thin or no-shell helmets all offer similar protective qualities although hard-shell helmets may offer slightly more protection against severe brain injury.
It is important to understand that while helmets offer a significant amount of protection, they do not prevent all head injuries. Some cyclists will still experience head injuries while wearing a helmet which may be due to an ill-fitting or improperly worn helmet, movement of the helmet at the time of the crash, or a crash so intense that it is beyond the protective capabilities of the helmet.
If you enjoy cycling or use it as an environmentally friendly means of transportation you should always keep your safety in mind.
- Use designated bike lanes if they are available and lobby your local politicians if they are not.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Use turn signals and do not jet out between vehicles.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!