Max Draitser - Southern California Bicycle Attorneys

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Should you wear a helmet when cycling in California?

Ever since you were a child, you probably heard over and over to wear a helmet when you were riding your bike. In fact, it is California law for minors to wear helmets when on a bike, a scooter, a skateboard or skates. However, what is the protocol for wearing a helmet once you are an adult?

California does not require adults to wear helmets, though attempts at making it law have occurred. Without it being mandatory, should you still wear a helmet? Examining the points for each side of the argument can help you decide.

Arguments for

The biggest reason for helmet use is the safety they provide in the event of an accident, especially with a motor vehicle. Lack of safety headgear raises the risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury. TBIs range from severe to mild, with symptoms sometimes showing up days or weeks after the accident. Brain damage may heal over time or be permanent, leading to changes in lifestyle, health and employment.

Arguments against

Cycling advocacy groups contend that a helmet law for adults would make the activity seem dangerous and deter people from participating. Studies have also shown that drivers take helmet-wearing cyclists more seriously, expecting them to be more experienced, and therefore not giving them as much room or care as they would for a cyclist without a helmet. Those against mandatory helmets propose that making roads safer for cycling and educating drivers and cyclists on traffic laws and safety would be a better solution.

Things to consider

In addition to the above information, consider the following factors as you make your choice:

  • The time and distance of your ride
  • The amount of light there will be when you are riding
  • How biker friendly the area is
  • The speed limit
  • Your experience level
  • Whether you are riding around town or off road

Of course, wearing a helmet does not guarantee 100 percent safety. You can still get hurt and need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer in suing a driver for damages.