H is for helmet: bicycle, motorcycle

Bicycle helmets cut the risk of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) by half.

helmetFor the longest time, I’ve been wearing a helmet when I ride my bicycle. Years ago, I used to take a lot of grief for it. “Whadja think you’re doin’, riding a motorcycle?”

That’s because in New York State, only bicyclists under the age of 14 years old are required to wear safety certified bicycle helmets when they are operators or passengers on bicycles. BTW, children aged 1 to 4 must wear certified bicycle helmet and ride in specially designed child safety seats.

Whereas, motorcycle helmets ARE REQUIRED in New York State. “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended.”

I’ve read that protective headgear is designed to absorb shock and redistribute impact on contact, thus reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury. Specifically, despite some criticism of bike helmets for not being protective enough, they do cut the risk of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) by half when riders suffer a head injury, a U.S. study suggests.

I have this friend Donna who had a serious bicycle accident in July 2017. She recently showed me photos some days beyond her event, and she would agree about two things: 1) she looked pretty terrible in the after her event, though she looks quite like herself now; and 2) if she had not been wearing a helmet, at best, she would have had severe brain injury, and more likely, she would have died.

I sought her out because my sister Leslie had experienced a remarkably similar event in June 2018, with each flying over the handlebars. Having seen her helmet, which she bought only three days before the event, there’s little doubt she would have been dead or permanently injured without the “shell”.

Some people don’t like helmets because of vanity, or “freedom”, or wanting to feel the wind in their hair. My experience suggests those are meaningless trade-offs if you’re deceased.

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