It’s National Bicycle Safety Month! If it’s been a while since you last pulled the bike out of the garage, you may want to celebrate this month by buying a new bicycle helmet, especially if it’s been sitting in a hot garage or been in a crash before (both ways a helmet could lose effectiveness!).
You may be asking yourself, “Do I really need to wear a helmet?” Legally, Louisiana law only requires children under the age of 12 to wear a helmet when riding a bike. But everyone, including teenagers and adults, should wear a helmet before they jump on a bike.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than half of all bicyclists killed in car accidents were not wearing helmets at the time of their accidents. This backs up other data that found wearing a helmet can reduce head injuries by as much as 50% and face and neck injuries by 33%.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to protect yourself or your loved ones. A $30 helmet can be just as safe as a $100 helmet. The major difference lies in how soon it will start to show signs of wear, and how it will need to be replaced.
When purchasing a helmet, ensure that it’s approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). All bicycle helmets manufactured since 1999 are required to be approved by the CPSC to be legally sold in the U.S., but you can double check by looking for a sticker or label on the inside of the helmet. “ASTM,” “ANSI,” and “Snell” labels also meet CPSC standards. We don’t recommend buying a used helmet, even with a “CPSC” sticker, since you have no way of knowing if it’s been in an accident before.
Types of Bicycle Helmets
Depending on what you use your bike for, there are a few different types of bike helmets you may want to consider.
Road Bike Helmets
This type of helmet tends to have an elongated shape made of lightweight materials with lots of vents to keep riders cool. It’s the most common type of bicycle helmet.
Mountain Bike Helmets
This type of helmet has additional coverage extending out over the front of the head, which can also help to keep the sun out of your eyes. Some mountain bike helmets also have a chin or mouth guard, especially those used by downhill mountain bikers and BMX riders.
Triathlon Bike Helmets
This type of helmet has a rounded front, sometimes with a faceplate, and a “tail” extending from the back. This design improves aerodynamics and can help shave seconds off your time.
Commuter Bike Helmets
This type of helmet has a rounded shape and very few or no vents to provide more coverage to protect wearers from the elements. They are less sporty in appearance but may come in bright colors or with reflectors to make their wearers more visible to cars.
How to Pick a Helmet that Fits
More important than the type of helmet you choose is how well it fits. This is especially important when choosing a child’s helmet. Don’t think, “they’ll grow into it!” A poorly fitting helmet will not be able to do its job and keep its wearer safe in a crash.
To determine what size helmet you need, you will need to measure the circumference of your head. This can be done with a soft tape measure, or if you do not have one, with a piece of string that can then be measured using a standard tape measure or ruler.
Measure all the way around your head starting from about one inch above your eyebrows.
- If it’s less than 20”, get an extra-small helmet
- If it’s 20”-21.75”, get a small helmet
- If it’s 21.75”-23.25”, get a medium helmet
- If it’s 23.25”-24.75”, get a large helmet
- If it’s larger than 24.75”, get an extra-large helmet
Keep in mind, these are guidelines! Some brands may use slightly different sizing charts, so always make sure to check the circumference listed on the helmet you are considering.
Trying on a Helmet
Although great deals can be found on bicycle helmets when shopping online, it’s better to purchase them in person so you can try them on and make sure they fit properly. Use these tips to determine how well a helmet fits after picking out a few you like.
- Most helmets should have a wheel at the back that can be turned to adjust tightness. Adjust so the helmet is comfortably snug and can’t be pushed more than an inch in any direction.
- The helmet should sit level on your head. The front edge should sit about one inch or less above your eyebrows, not tilted back, to protect your forehead. If it moves up when you push it, it should be tightened, or it might be too big.
- The side straps should form a ‘V’ around your ears, ending under your earlobes. If they don’t, the straps may need to be adjusted, or the helmet may be the wrong size.
- You should be able to fit no more than one finger under the chin strap. When the chin strap is on, open your mouth wide to test the fit. The top of your head should press against the helmet when you do this. If it doesn’t, it should be tightened.
- Do you normally ride your bike with your hair in a ponytail? While wearing a baseball cap or with sunglasses on? Do so when you test out helmets too, as this will affect fit.
- If the helmet is digging into any particular area, it’s likely you need a different shape or different size helmet.
Now that You Know How to Pick a Helmet, Ride Safe!
At Broussard & Hart, we believe in enjoying beautiful weather whenever we get the chance, and we believe in taking safety precautions whenever possible. But we also know that sometimes wearing a helmet isn’t enough to protect you when others behave negligently. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, we want to help you get the money you need to get your life back to normal. Call us today for a free consultation.