Biking can be dangerous. In traffic or on trails, cyclists must consider the hazards that lead to collisions. Bike lanes and road sharing rules can reduce the likelihood of accidents. Yet there’s one thing you can do which decreases the odds of serious injury in a crash: Wear a helmet.

By law, all children under 18 must wear a bicycle helmet in California. Those found in violation of this law may receive a fine, which their parents are liable for. Yet adults in California can cycle without a helmet without risking legal consequences. Doing so may put your safety in peril.

You may have adopted an agnostic or antagonistic attitude toward helmets. But these facts may make you consider their benefits.

Helmets protect you from head injuries

Helmets originated to prevent serious head injuries, and they do a good job of doing so. Yet some critics argue that helmets don’t do enough in this regard. In bicycle accidents, helmets reduced the risk of traumatic brain injuries by 52% and death by 44%. Even if you don’t have to wear a helmet by law, it might save your life.

Helmets increase your visibility

You might be more visible to motorists when you wear a helmet. They can add height to you, which could put you within a driver’s line of visibility if you weren’t before. Wearing a bright helmet or applying reflective tape to yours could improve these odds further. This may be beneficial, too, if you ride at night.

Helmets send a message

By wearing a helmet, you signal to motorists and other riders that safety matters. If you have children or young relatives, this impression may extend to them, too. If they see a trusted adult wearing a helmet, it could increase the likelihood that they’ll take the precaution as well.

California’s helmet law doesn’t mandate that adults wear them. But helmets nonetheless provide benefits that can improve your riding experience. Next time you’re about to hop on your bicycle without one, give your safety a second though before pedaling off.