Bicycle helmets are one of the most critical pieces of safety equipment in modern sports. The helmet is synonymous with bicycling and has been extensively tested and standardized by different health and safety organizations. The link between crash injury prevention and helmets is strong, and there's no excuse not to wear one.
Helmets Protect Your Head
It may seem obvious, but the first and foremost reason to wear a helmet is to protect your head. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2008 paper "Traffic Safety Facts" reports that 70% of fatal injuries sustained by cyclists in a crash involved head injuries. Helmets were found by the NHTSA to be 85 to 88 percent effective in preventing these injuries by absorbing the impact of a crash. According to the report, there is no better way at preventing head injuries than by using a helmet. Increasing your chance of surviving a deadly crash starts with helmet use.
A helmet increases your visibility, which can help prevent a crash altogether. Bicycle helmets in bright colors are much more visible in different lighting conditions, and the placement of a helmet on the top of your head is more in line with the potential vision of drivers in large vehicles like trucks. Having reflective tape or panels on a helmet also increases low-light visibility when you find yourself riding at night, and a helmet is an ideal mount for a headlamp and tail light for nocturnal riding.
By wearing a helmet, you're making an effort to help increase the safety of others by promoting bicycle safety. The more people use helmets, the less of a social stigma there is about how helmets look. By making helmets seem less awkward to wear in public, you could be convincing someone else to wear his helmet and increase his own safety. The first step in making helmets ubiquitous is to make not wearing a helmet seem dangerous and irresponsible.
By wearing your helmet on longer rides, you're getting used to it to the point that you can forget you're even wearing it. This association makes it easier to remember to wear your helmet during shorter, casual rides. With enough conscious effort, your helmet will eventually become part of your routine, and you can feel confident and safe knowing your helmet is always present while you're riding. The inconvenience of wearing a helmet will seem much less potent when it becomes second nature to grab it before you head out the door.
Helmets are essential for participating in group rides and races. These activities bring an extra level of risk because of the close proximity between riders, and not wearing a helmet makes your likelihood of serious injury in a crash higher. Nobody wants to be responsible for seriously injuring another cyclist, and other group members may refuse to ride with you if an accidental collision could cause a fatal injury. Spare others the anguish of causing a serious injury by wearing your helmet and protecting yourself from a crash.