Helmets go a long way toward preventing fatalities and life-changing head injuries in a bike accident. They’re the single most important piece of protective gear that any rider can wear.

Even so, studies have found that a lot of people are not wearing them. In one study that looked only at cyclists who got into accidents, it found that more than 20% — or one out of every five — did not have a bike helmet on at the time of the crash.

Now, this does not account for all riders, but just those who did get involved in accidents. It could be that riders with helmets were also safer riders, working harder to avoid accidents, which would change the overall percentages. But keep in mind that even safe riders still get hit. You can try to be alert, wear the proper gear and do everything in your power to avoid a crash, and you can still get hit by a negligent driver.

Why don’t people wear helmets? The reason differs from person to person. Some don’t like the way that they look or feel. Others do not want to pay for a helmet after paying for a bike. Still others just honestly think they will not get into an accident and so they look at a helmet as an unnecessary piece of equipment.

If you are a cyclist, learn from these people. Understand that accidents happen and helmets are always a good idea. On top of that, take the time to really look into your legal options to seek compensation if you do get hit.