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Kristina Labanauskas
Kristina Labanauskas
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Bike Helmet Safety: Use your head

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It should come as no surprise that wearing a helmet while biking might help reduce your risk of injury in the event of a fall or accident. But, are you aware of just how dangerous not wearing a helmet can be?

Lack of helmet use is a leading cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which occurs as a result of a blow to the head that causes damage to the brain. A TBI occurs every 21 seconds in the U.S. And, 85% of all TBI is preventable.

According to 2006 statistics from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 44,000 cyclists were reported in traffic crashes in 2006. 1 in 8 of those with reported injuries had a brain injury. 770 bicyclists died on U.S. roads; over 90% died in crashes with motor vehicles. And, 2/3 of the deaths were from traumatic brain injury.

Clearly, wearing a helmet is fundament in terms of bike safety. Still, wearing a helmet in and of itself is not enough. You need to wear the right helmet and use the helmet correctly. Essentially, the helmet must be safe and must fit properly

Safe helmets have an endorsement of sorts. You should notice a sticker on the helmet from one of the following groups: the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or the SNELL Standards for Protective Headgear.

In terms of a proper fit, here are some basic requirements:

-Accurate measurements: The helmet is intended to be worn level across the top of your head. Measure accordingly.

-Snug fit: The helmet should not move more than one inch in any direction.

-Adjust straps: Be sure to adjust the helmet straps so they are snug. If there is still movement, use foam pads (which should be included with the helmet) to ensure a good fit.

Finally, if you are in a bike accident, replace the helmet. There might be damage to the helmet that you can’t see but might affect the helmet’s protection level nonetheless. You might be out a few bucks (literally, as acceptable helmets range from $10-$20), but in terms of safety, you will be in better shape.

In addition to wearing the right helmet, there are other safety measures to be taken. You should be familiar with and adhere to the rules of the road and wear additional safety gear that applies to your particular needs (for example reflective gear for night biking).