The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supports the enactment of bicycle helmet use laws. Bicycle helmets offer bicyclists the best protection from head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes, and bicycle helmet laws have proved effective in increasing bicycle helmet use.
- More than 51,000 bicyclists have died in traffic crashes in the United States since 1932, the first year that bicycle fatality estimates were recorded.
- In 2006, 773 bicyclists were killed and an additional 44,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Children 14 and younger accounted for 98 of those fatalities (13%), making this one of the most frequent causes of injury related death for young children.
- In 2006, of those cyclists killed, 13 percent were 15 to 24 years old; 12 percent were 25 to 34 years old; 36 percent were 35 to 54 years old; and 25 percent were 55 and older.
- In 2006, the average age of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes was 41, and the average age of those injured was 30.
- In 2006, 88 percent of bicyclists killed and 82 percent of those injured were males. In 2005, an estimated 494,712 of all bicycle-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Approximately 53 percent of these were under the age of 15.
- In 2006, 25 percent of injured bicyclists were 15 to 24 years old; 12 percent were between the ages of 25 and 34; 23 percent were between the ages of 35 and 54; and 13 percent were 55 and older.
- Bicycle helmets are 85- to 88-percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes.
- Despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, only about 20 to 25 percent of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets.n Universal bicycle helmet use by children 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries, and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.
- As with seat belts, child safety seats, and motorcycle helmets, enacting laws requiring the use of bicycle helmets, along with education and high-visibility enforcement, is likely to be the most promising way to increase bicycle helmet use.
- The first bicycle helmet law was passed in California in 1986 and became effective in 1987. This law was amended in 1994 to cover everyone under 18.
- To date, 21 States, the District of Columbia, and at least 149 municipal localities have enacted age specific bicycle helmet laws. Most of these laws cover bicyclists under 16.
- Fourteen States have no State or local helmet laws at all (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming).
- of 1994 (Public Law 103-267), required the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop a mandatory bicycle helmet standard.
- On March 10, 1998, the CPSC published a final rule establishing 16 CFR Part 1203, Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets, which applies to bicycle helmets manufactured after March 10, 1999. The interim mandatory standard that went into effect on March 17, 1995, continues to apply to helmets manufactured between March 17, 1995, and March 10, 1999. The standard mandates several performance requirements including:
- Impact protection in a crash: The standard establishes a performance test to ensure that helmets adequately protect the head in a collision or a fall;
- Children’s helmets and head coverage: The standard specifies an increased area of head coverage for children age 1 to 5;
- Chinstrap strength: The standard establishes a performance test to measure chinstrap strength to prevent breakage or excessive elongation of the strap during a crash;
- Helmet Stability: The standard specifies a test procedure and requirement for a helmet rolling off a head during a collision or fall; and
- Peripheral Vision: The standard requires that a helmet allow a field of vision of 105 degrees to both the left and right of straight ahead.In addition, helmets meeting the standard must have labels indicating that they comply with CPSC requirements.
- The estimated annual cost of bicycle related injuries and deaths (for all ages) is $8 billion.
- Bicycle related head injuries are expensive because these injuries can endure and may require treatment for a lifetime.
- Every dollar spent on bicycle helmets saves society $30 in indirect medical costs and other costs.
Information provided by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, please visit www.NHTSA.gov for more information.