Bicycle helmets in the United States
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The requirement to wear bicycle helmets in the United States varies by jurisdiction and by age of the cyclist, for example 21 states and the District of Columbia have statewide mandatory helmet laws for children. 29 US states have no statewide law, and 13 of these states have no such laws in any lower-level jurisdiction either.
States began to adopt laws on wearing helmets for bicycle riding in 1987. There are a total of 22 state laws for bicycle helmets and 201 local laws. Each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50%, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33%.
A helmet law will reduce the fatalities of people in bicycle accidents by about 15% in the long run. There is no evidence that shows these laws and statistics have a spillover effect for adults. Just because more children will be wearing helmets does not mean more adults will wear them. Through 2000, existing helmet laws have saved 130 lives.
The state of New York reported that since it had introduced its second helmet law in 1994 for riders under 14, the annual rate of cyclists hospitalized from bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries fell from 464 in 1990 to 209 in 1995.
By law, all helmets sold in the U.S. must meet standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). There were two helmet recalls in the year 2000. A helmet made by Rand International of Farmingdale, NY was voluntarily recalled and involved 70,000 helmets known as "L.A. Cruisin' Bike Helmets" in child, youth and adult sizes. The CPSC’s press release for the recall was, "These helmets fail impact testing and labeling required under CPSC’s Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets violating the Consumer Product Safety Act. Riders wearing these helmets are not properly protected from falls and could suffer severe head injuries…" The other helmet was a girl's helmet with decals reading "Hearts and Flowers." It was voluntarily recalled by Cycle Express Inc., of New York, NY, who had sold about 9,000 of them. The CPSC released a similar press release statement, “These helmets fail impact testing and labeling required under CPSC’s Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets violating the Consumer Product Safety Act. Riders wearing these helmets are not adequately protected from falls and could suffer severe head injuries or death…”
- "Bicycle Helmet Laws". Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- "Bicycle helmet use". www.iihs.org. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- “Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Fatality Facts”
- “Journal of Policy Analysis and Management: Volume 23, Issue 3: Abstract”
- “Bike Helmets: How to Choose” by T.D. Wood