While there continues to be much debate surrounding helmets and whether wearing one should be enforced by law, we remain huge proponents of the bicycle helmet.
Certainly, there are limits to what a bicycle helmet can protect us from, and nobody can deny that the best way to avoid head trauma is to avoid collisions and crashes altogether. No impact is infinitely better than impact with a helmet. However, regardless of how careful we are, it’s impossible to prevent all crashes or accidents, they happen. While helmets don't provide unlimited protection, it's better to hit your head while wearing a helmet than to hit your head without one.
In the United States, for example, it was found that bicycle related injuries led to more hospital visits than any other recreational activity for people under the age of 21 and two thirds of the bicycle related deaths are head traumas. Every week, 20 Canadians are hospitalized from cycling related injuries. Of those Canadian cyclists hospitalized with head injuries, 78% were not wearing a helmet.
Helmets work to protect the head by absorbing and diffusing impact from collisions with hard surfaces. The foam inside of the helmet slows and reduces the amount of force received by the skull. Though they cannot always protect from concussions, helmets continue to protect cyclists from skull fractures or lacerations, as they were designed to.
When it comes to your helmet, it's important to keep the following questions in mind:
- How old is your helmet? Do you need a new one?
EPS foam deteriorates over the years, and even if you have never broken your helmet, it might be completely worn out and entirely unsafe.
- Has your helmet sustained an impact?
Most helmets are a one-use piece of technology. Once the EPS liner has absorbed an impact, it's imperfect. Any cracks in the liner mean that it will be far less able to absorb subsequent impacts.
- Does it fit?
If it's sliding around and isn't snug on your head, it probably won't protect you in the event of a fall.
- Is it cool?
Yes, it is. Protecting your brain is very, very cool.