Common questions and answers for you and your family about
bicycle helmets and safety
Why are bicycle helmets so important?
Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury
by up to 85 percent. Most deaths related to bicycle falls and collisions
involve head injuries. This means that wearing a helmet can save your life.
Do I really need to wear a bicycle
Yes. Each year, bicycle-related deaths number about 900, and United States
hospital emergency rooms treat more than 500,000 people for bicycle-related
injuries. More children, ages 5 to 14, go to United States hospital emergency
rooms for injuries associated with bicycles than with any other sport. Many
of these injuries involve the head. If you do not wear a bicycle helmet,
you are risking your life.
In addition, many states and local jurisdictions have laws requiring
bicycle helmet use. Check if you have a law in your area.
Why do we need a new U.S.
Consumer product safety commission (CPSC) bicycle helmet safety standard?
The new standard ensures that bicycle helmets provide excellent head
protection and that the chin straps are strong enough to keep a helmet on
the head and in place during a fall or collision.
Will bicycle helmets meeting
CPSC's bicycle helmet safety standard protect young children?
Young children on bicycles suffer a higher proportion of head injuries
than older bicyclists. Under CPSC's new standard, bicycle helmets for children
ages 1 to 5 cover a larger portion of the head than helmets for older persons,
thus providing additional protection.
All young children should wear a bicycle helmet, whether they are riding
bicycles, tricycles, or are passengers on a parent's bicycle. Never carry
a child under age 1 on your bicycle.
Should I replace my current
bicycle helmet and buy a new one that meets the CPSC bicycle helmet safety
If you have a bicycle helmet that meets one or more of the voluntary
bicycle helmet standards like ASTM, Snell, or ANSI, you do not need to buy
a new helmet. These bicycle helmets provide sufficient protection for the
When you need to replace a helmet because it is outgrown or damaged in
a crash, buy a new helmet that meets the CPSC safety standard.
How can I tell if my bicycle
helmet fits properly?
The helmet should fit comfortably and securely. It should be worn so
that it is level on the head (not tilted back on the crown or pulled low
over the forehead). You should not be able to move the helmet in any direction,
back-to-front or side-to-side. The chin strap should be securely fastened.
If needed, the helmet's sizing pads can help improve the fit.
What can I do if
I have trouble fitting the bicycle helmet?
Make sure you have the proper size helmet for your head. Try the sizing
pads included in the helmet box. If you still have trouble, ask a knowledgeable
salesperson to help you. Properly fitting a bicycle helmet takes time, but
it is worth the effort. If your helmet does not fit properly, it will not
protect your head if you have a fall or collision.
Will bicycle helmets protect
me when playing other sports?
Bicycle helmets offer head protection for sports like in-line skating
and roller skating. In addition, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads
are recommended for these sports.
Those who skateboard or do more aggressive (trick or freestyle) skating
may want to look for helmets sold specifically for these activities that
meet safety standards for these sports. These helmets cover more of the
head, especially in the back. Wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads will
offer additional body protection.
For the first time ever, all bicycle helmets must meet a uniform mandatory
safety standard issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
In the past, bicycle helmets have met one or more voluntary safety standards,
but after March 1999, all bicycle helmets manufactured in or imported to
the United States must comply with the new Federal standard. Some manufacturers
are likely to offer helmets meeting the CPSC safety standard before the
effective date. After March 1999, consumers need only to look for a label
or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard. This label
or sticker ensures that the helmet will provide a high degree of head protection