Many bicycle riders swear by a reliable and well-fitting helmet. Others think they are ineffective and would rather not wear them. This debate goes for small children all the way up to Olympic riders. But, what does the law say?

In the state of Florida, anyone younger than 16years old is required to wear a helmet. The helmet must meet the Federal standards for bike helmets. If you are 16 or over, you are not required to wear a helmet on your bike. But, should you?

What is the purpose of a bike helmet?

If you look at a bicycle helmet in comparison to a motorcycle helmet or a football helmet, you may wonder why anyone would wear one. They are lightweight, shaped oddly, and only cover a small section of the head.

A bike helmet is designed to be aerodynamic. A person in a bike race will usually lower the head toward the handlebars and tuck their head down to minimize wind resistance. It may only save the rider a few seconds, but any advantage could impact their time at the finish line.

A bike helmet is lightweight. It is shaped to protect the entire skull. The outside of the helmet is not the important part. It is there to hold the inside of the helmet together. It is the inner liner that makes the helmet useful during a collision.

There are many kinds of inner liners. The most common liner is made from foam consisting of tiny cells resembling a honeycomb. But in recent years, there has been a new material that experts consider the best available. This liner is a foamed polymer. It absorbs impact better than any helmet before it. The reason is that the foamed polymer liner is omnidirectional. In other words, it spreads the energy from impact throughout the liner which means you feel less of the impact.

Doesn’t wearing a helmet take away from the fun of riding?

In the United States, around 900 bicyclists are killed per year. It is estimated that 15% of those people were not wearing helmets. Some people sustain head injuries and suffer from traumatic brain injury. The accident may affect the rest of their lives. These victims may need assistance to complete even the simplest tasks after their accident. Their quality of life is diminished, and some end up in nursing homes because the injuries are too severe for them to care for themselves.

Is medical insurance a factor?

Have you read your insurance policy? Many insurance companies would not pay for your expenses if you were injured while riding a bike and not wearing a helmet. Care for a brain injury is quite costly. Aftercare could go on for the rest of your life. Can you afford tens of thousands of dollars for medical care? What would that do to your family and their future?

The choice is yours. In Florida, you have the option to wear a bike helmet or not. However, keep in mind that it only takes one accident to change your future forever. A helmet may be the difference between life and death. So, the choice is yours.