When people who do not ride bicycles hear that a rider was hurt in a collision, they often ask: Were they wearing a helmet? Not only does this question assume that the rider was acting irresponsibly, it is also based on the assumption that a bike helmet can stop any kind of injury, including all head injuries.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. A properly-made bike helmet does help protect the wearer from some brain injuries. But no helmet provides total protection from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in every possible crash.
How bike helmets work
Bicycle helmets by absorbing the energy from impact with a vehicle or the road. The foam in the helmet crushes and cracks, absorbing some of the force and slowing and spreading out the rest to reduce the blow to the head. This decreases the chances of a skull fracture or brain injury.
Decreases — but does not eliminate. Helmets are certified using a specific test. This test does not necessarily simulate every real-world collision between a bicycle and a motor vehicle. Some cause a more severe impact than the test. Also, the helmet’s shape, foam coverage, and the foam’s design itself can make it ineffective in certain situations.
Driver safety is the key
It is true that bike helmets can save lives and reduce the severity of injury. But ultimately, the only way to guarantee that a rider is not hurt in a bike accident is for the accident not to happen at all. While some collisions cannot be avoided, drivers who respect riders’ right of way, yield at intersections, and drive carefully can make the biggest difference in their community’s riders’ health and safety.
After a bike accident caused by a reckless or dangerous motorist, you may be entitled to compensation for things like your medical bills and pain and suffering. A conversation with a personal injury attorney, particularly one with experience representing bike riders, can help you find out more.