Wearing a helmet is one way that people can reduce their risk of serious injury while riding a bicycle. An outdated or damaged unit, however, cannot provide optimal protection.
People should stay aware of their helmet’s condition so they can replace them when necessary. When purchasing one, people should pay attention to fit and function.
A bicycle crash requires an immediate helmet replacement. Even if the cyclist does not notice any visible damage, components of the product may have weakened upon impact. As a result, there is no guarantee it will provide an optimal level of protection if the cyclist crashes again. According to Consumer Reports, one study revealed that a helmet can lower the risk of head injuries by a staggering 70%. As such, people can benefit indefinitely from investing in a new helmet and tossing their old one after a collision.
Even if people do not crash their bicycles, an old helmet may turn brittle over time. According to The New York Times, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing an undamaged helmet every 5 to 10 years. Excessive exposure to sunlight can weaken the outer shell. Frequent sweating can also weaken the integrity of helmet straps. A common misconception is that because foam components appear to be in good working order, the product still functions. However, there could be underlying problems due to age and use that are not immediately visible.
A helmet can vastly reduce the risks of serious injury or death in a bicycle crash. However, only an updated and well-maintained product can provide the optimal level of protection.