Two-thirds of hospitalizations and approximately 75 percent of fatalities that are caused by bicycle accidents are a result of head injuries. According to extensive research, one of the most effective ways to prevent head injuries in cycling accidents is to wear a helmet. Historically, helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by about 50 percent, and the risk of severe face, head, and neck injury by approximately 33 percent.
Bicycle Helmet Laws in Tennessee
In Tennessee, it is unlawful for any person under the age of 16 to operate a bike or be a passenger on a bicycle without wearing a protective bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and secured. It is also illegal for parents and guardians to permit children under 12 years of age to ride bicycles without helmets. Additionally, it is unlawful for businesses to rent or lease bicycles to kids under 16 unless they have a helmet in their possession at the time of the rental or one is provided with the lease. When serious injuries or fatalitiesoccur, parents, guardians, and businesses who violate these laws may be able to be held liable for the damages that are suffered.
There are currently no laws in place in Tennessee that govern the use of bicycle helmets by adults. Society has been thoroughly educated about the benefits of wearing a helmet when cycling, and although wearing a helmet lowers the odds of a serious head injury occurring, many adults still choose to ride unprotected. The risk of severe complications from head injuries caused by bicycle crashes increases with age, however, and adult cyclists should wear properly fitted helmets as well.
Choosing the Right Helmet
Smart decisions lead to safer outcomes. Cyclists should follow certain guidelines when choosing a helmet:
- Snug Fit –A helmet should fit snugly and not move when the head moves forward to back or side to side. Trying on a variety of helmets is suggested to assure a good fit.
- Good Ventilation – A helmet should have good ventilation to increase comfort, particularly in hot temperatures.
- Comfortable Weight – Although helmet weight does not vary tremendously, slight weight variations can make a difference in comfort levels.
- Enjoy Wearing – It is important to pick a helmet that is easy to wear, as it is more likely it will get use all of the time if the rider is happy with it.