Bicycle helmet laws differ according to the requirements of each state and the age of the rider. Currently there are no federal laws in place mandating the use of bicycle helmets for adults over 18 in any of the 50 States of America. Laws for kids under 18 vary according to age and location throughout the country.
Which States Require Bicycle Helmets for Kids?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, bicycle riders under the age of 18 are required to wear bike helmets in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
Despite the growing trend of studies showing the effectiveness of bike helmets in reducing head injuries, many states do not have helmet laws for children, including these states:
- Kentucky Bicycle Helmet Laws – No state laws requiring helmet use for kids in effect. City laws only in place. Ex: The City of Louisville guidelines state that “You MUST wear a helmet if you are under 18 years old and you are riding in any Metro Park.”
- Ohio Bicycle Helmet Laws – No state laws requiring helmet use for kids in effect. City laws in place for many locations requiring helmet use for kids under 16.1
- Indiana Bicycle Helmet Laws – No state laws requiring helmet use for children in effect.
How to Properly Fit a Bike Helmet
Based on recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here are the most popular steps for properly fitting a bicycle helmet:
- Measure your head to get accurate sizing.
- Position the helmet to sit level on your head and low on the forehead.
- Adjust the slider on both straps to form a “V” shape under, and slightly in front of the ears. If possible, lock the slider.
- Make sure to center the left buckle on the chin. The straps can be connected from the back on most helmets.
- Buckle your chinstrap. Tighten the strap until it is snug, so that no more than one or two fingers can fit under the strap.
- Make sure your helmet is properly adjusted to maximize safety while riding.
Choosing to wear a helmet is a first step toward protecting kids and adults from common injuries including traumatic brain injuries. But wearing a helmet will not be effective if the helmet has not been fitted correctly or is not worn properly.
Types of Bicycle Crash Injuries
Injuries from a bike accident can be serious and even fatal. The most common types of serious injuries resulting from a bicycle crash involve concussions, skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), some causing permanent damage to the brain. No matter the cause of the bicycle accident, the use of a bike helmet is your strongest move to combat the dangers associated with a bike crash.
Other common traumatic bike crash injuries include:
- Face and eye contusions and fractures
- Musculoskeletal fractures
- Rib fractures and lung injuries
- Abdomen fractures, contusions and lacerations
- Pelvic and rectal fractures and injuries
- Skin and soft tissue lacerations and contusions2
Teach Your Kids About Bike Helmet Safety
The best way to teach a child about the importance of bicycle helmet safety comes through your example. When adults wear bike helmets, they send a strong message that safety and protecting our very vulnerable bodies take top priority over “looking cool” or wanting a carefree riding experience. Many helmet companies have upped their game to incorporate popular helmet designs that appeal to kids.
In addition to following the laws in many states, wearing a bike helmet is a small investment for the greatest benefits for our kids: remaining healthy and strong through valuable exercise and a fulfilling outdoor activity.
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