Bicycling is a popular activity in Austin. While city leaders work on making the area more bike friendly, riders are encouraged to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. Bicycle accidents involving collisions with motor vehicles can result in disabling and potentially life threatening injuries. Bike helmets go a long way towards protecting riders, but experts claim their overall design could use some safety improvements.
Bicycle Helmets and Bike Accident Injuries
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that bicycle accidents represent roughly two percent of all motor vehicle-related traffic deaths each year. Close to 700 bicyclists are killed each year in the U.S. while thousands of others suffer potentially disabling injuries. These numbers have increased over the past decade as more people take to the streets on bicycles either as a hobby or as a way of getting to and from work and school.
Bicycle accidents can result in injuries such as broken bones, fractured ribs, and road burns, but the IIHS states that among the most common and serious are injuries to the head and brain. This emphasizes the need for wearing a bicycle helmet, which can reduce your risks of suffering severe and life threatening injuries by as much as 50 percent.
The non-profit organization Helmets.org seeks to raise awareness of the risks bicyclists face when they refuse to put on a helmet. While there are currently no federal laws requiring their use, many states and municipalities have adopted helmet laws for residents. In Austin, as in the majority of other areas, there are no adult bike helmet requirements, but riders are required to wear one if they are under 18.
Needed Improvements in Bicycle Helmets
While helmet use is strongly encouraged as a way of preventing potentially fatal bike accidents, there are not foolproof in preventing serious injuries. A September 2017 Washington Post report states bicyclists face four major types of brain injuries as the result of accidents:
- Skull fractures;
- Interior brain bruising and swelling;
- Brain bleeding;
- Twisting and distortion of the brain
Skulls fractures and brain bruising are typically caused by either direct impact with a motor vehicle or linear energy, such as when your head hits the road. While the current design of bicycle helmets, with a hard outer shell and firm foam inserts, helps to protect against these injuries, it does little to prevent brain bleeding and distortion which result from rotational energy.
This is the force that jolts a riders head and causes it to whip back and forth, potentially slamming the brain into the hard walls of the skull. To address this issue, bicycle helmets would be better designed in the way football helmets are, with neck support and soft cushioning to absorb the impact of a jolt.
Contact Our Bicycle Accident Lawyers Today for Help
When bicycle accidents occur, they can leave you suffering permanent disabilities. To ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to in an accident claim, call or contact the Christensen Law Firm, PLLC online and request a free consultation with our experienced Austin bicycle accident lawyer today.