Benjamin Oreskes points out the increasing injury and death rates for bicyclists. One reason for fatalities is that present bicycle helmet standards are inadequate and outdated. Even when helmets are worn, they do not protect against brain damage. Present mandatory standards take into account linear acceleration but fail to assess angular head acceleration. Yet angular acceleration is known to cause traumatic brain injury.
Bicycles are being used more and more. Urban areas are developing bicycle lanes to encourage more bicycling. But while deaths from use of passenger vehicles, light trucks and motorcycles have decreased, bicycle deaths have increased by 1.2 percent in 2012-2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bicycle-related head injuries resulted in an estimated 81,000 emergency room visits in 2011, and 77 percent of these bicyclists were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Among children and teenagers, bicycling results in more cases of TBI than any other sport or recreational activity. Health care costs due to bicycle-related head injuries total over $2 billion annually. The number of bicycle-related TBIs has been rising over the past 15 years. So with all this known, why do we not have safer bicycle helmets to protect children and adults?
There are safer alternative bicycle helmet designs available today that have dedicated mechanisms that mitigate angular acceleration that is the primary cause of brain injury in bicycle accidents. New modern standards are desperately needed to protect children and bicyclists of all ages in our community.
Glenn C. McGovern