If you’re a bicyclist, you know how important wearing a helmet is. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that the odds of getting injured while riding a bike are cut in half when you wear a helmet. However, that doesn’t make helmets any less difficult to buy. There are hundreds of helmets that all differ in style, capability and price. How do you choose?
With regard to safety, choosing the right helmet is a lot easier thanks to a study done by IIHS and Virginia Tech.
The Safety Test
On a scale from one to five stars, 30 different adult bicycle helmets were tested to see how safe they were. The helmets were subjected to conditions that were similar to a bicycle accident. This was accomplished by having the helmets undergo the same angle and force of impact as they would in a crash. Most of the helmets were given a rating of 3-4 stars, but four helmets stood out with the highest rating possible of five stars.
A noteworthy finding of this test was that the most expensive helmets weren’t always the safest. The top four helmets varied in price from $75 to $200. The common element found in the four safest helmets was MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system) technology. MIPS technology includes a double-layered system that gives more protection to the head.
Is there a correlation between safer helmets and fewer injuries?
Half of all 835 bicyclists who died in crashes with motor vehicles in 2016 were not wearing helmets.
It is the hope of the IIHS that its research leads helmet developers to improve the safety of all the helmets that are being produced. Previously, the institute’s research on car safety led to standard safety features such as air bags, headrests and bumpers.
6 Things to Do When Choosing a Bike Helmet
When trying on a helmet, don’t fasten the straps until after you follow these tips from the League of American Bicyclists:
- Make sure the helmet is level.
- The width between the top of your eyebrows and the front of your helmet should be two fingers wide.
- The helmet should not move much at all if you shake your head side to side rapidly.
- The side straps should be just below your ears. You can adjust them by moving the small tabs until they are in the right position.
- The chin strap should be half an inch below your chin when your mouth is closed.
- Always remember and never forget: wearing a helmet with loose straps is no different than wearing no helmet at all!