Should I Wear a Bike Helmet?
Our own belief, of course, is that a cyclist should wear a bike helmet. We are helmet advocates, after all.In 2010 we saw an increase in blog posts from cyclists who do not believe you should wear a helmet. They challenged the conventional wisdom that helmets are necessary to reduce brain injures. That has continued now for the intervening years. The positive experience with shared bicycle programs has raised basic questions about the need for helmets, and some riders are reconsidering.
Is there evidence that helmets protect brains and heads? We have a statistics that may help you research that. Don't miss the recent New York City data showing that 97% of their dead cyclists had no helmet.
Highlights of US statistics available from the US Department of Transportation Based on 2015 data. (released in June, 2017 and still the most recent).
818 bicyclists died on US roads in 2015, an increase of 12.2 per cent and the highest number since 1995. (It was 1,003 back in 1975)
45,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic 1n 2015, down 10 per cent from 50,000 in 2014 (52,000 in 2010)
37 Bicyclists 14 and under (7% of total) were killed in 2015. 5,000 were injured.
Average age of a bicyclist killed on US roads: 45 (36 in 2002)
Males killed 87%. Males injured 83%.
70% of fatal crashes were urban. 61% were not at intersections. 3% were in bike lanes.
Fatalities were about half during daylight hours.
Bicyclist deaths represented 2.3% of all 2015 traffic fatalities.
27% of the cyclists killed had been drinking. (Blood alcohol over .01 g/dl) 37% of the crashes involved either driver or cyclist drinking.
Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The IIHS is consistently the best source of bicycle fatality statistics on the web. Their picture of a "typical" bicyclist killed on our roads would be a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car.
IIHS Fatality Facts: Bicycles - 2014
Posted December 2017:
"Each year about 2 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. 1 Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent. 2 Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have helmet use laws applying to young bicyclists; none of these laws applies to all riders. Local ordinances in a few states require some or all bicyclists to wear helmets. The odds that a bicyclist will wear a helmet are 4 times higher after a helmet law is enacted than before a law is passed. 3 Helmets are important for riders of all ages, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-seven percent of bicyclist deaths are persons ages 20 and older. During the past few years, no more than 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets."
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
A total of 835 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2016. This represents a 1 percent increase from 2015 and is the highest number of bicyclist deaths since 1991. Although bicyclists deaths have decreased 17 percent since 1975, they have increased 34 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2010. Most bicyclist deaths in 2016 (87%) were those ages 20 and older. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 87 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have more than tripled. In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. The decline since 1975 among female bicyclists (28 percent) was larger than the decline among male bicyclists (15 percent).