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As a cyclist, you are very vulnerable to injury, especially if you ride in traffic. You may ride your bike simply for pleasure, or you may use it to commute to work or school. The question is, how safe are you?

Researchers studied thousands of patients who suffered a traumatic injury as the result of a bicycle crash, and their findings raised some eyebrows.

About the study

Findings from a University of Arizona study that focused on cyclists and helmet use were released at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons. Of the almost 6,300 patients who sustained TBI following a bicycle accident, only 25 percent were found to have been wearing helmets. One of the researchers, Dr. Ansab Haider, stated that helmets “help you prevent head bleeds.” Dr. Bellal Joseph, the lead author of the study, added that if you are severely hurt in a bicycle accident but are wearing a helmet, “you are going to fare better than if you were not.”

A difference of opinion

While most agree that sports riders and racers should wear helmets, some bicycle advocacy groups feel that for the ordinary cyclist, a helmet requirement violates freedom of choice. The university researchers also looked at what groups of riders were most likely to wear protective headgear. They found that more women than men wear helmets, and that the 10- to 20-year-olds were the least likely to wear them. However, as people aged, they became advocates, perhaps having had more experience with injuries.

Common injuries

A personal injury attorney will tell you that many people take it upon themselves to wear helmets, knowing that serious head injuries are common in bicycle accidents. This is encouraging, but there are still too many bicyclists who tend to believe that a severe injury could never happen to them. The fact is, a terrible crash can occur in an instant, and even if you do not agree with helmet laws, remember the university study. Wear a helmet and enjoy riding your bike for years to come.

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