Do Cyclists Have to Wear Helmets in Austin, Texas?
When people discuss bicycle laws, one of the first questions usually involves helmets. Most states do not enforce helmet laws for adult bicyclists but may require children to wear them. If you plan to bicycle in Austin or around other areas in Texas, here’s what you should know.
State and Local Bicycle Helmet Laws
The state of Texas does not require any bicyclist to wear a helmet at the state level. Technically, children do not need to wear helmets on the street or elsewhere. At the local level, however, Austin imposes some requirements. Within city limits, children under age 18 must wear a helmet while riding on public property including trails and in parks. While state and local jurisdictions do not require adults to wear helmets, we strongly urge our readers to wear one.
Why Wear a Bicycle Helmet Anyway?
Regardless of legal requirements, a helmet serves as a bicyclist’s only form of head protection in the event of an accident. Whether you fall off your bike or a vehicle strikes you on your morning commute, one head trauma can have serious implications. A strike in the right place can threaten your life, change your personality, or impair your cognitive and physical abilities. Brain injuries can change lives in unexpected and permanent ways. If wearing a helmet can prevent that possibility, choose to wear one.
Properly fitted bicycle helmets afford more protection than you might think. They feature hard outer shells, spreading the point of impact over the surface area of the helmet to reduce the experience of force on your head. This construction significantly reduces the risk of skull fractures. The cushion-like lining inside the helmet compresses the head to absorb the force of impact.
Children sometimes lament wearing helmets. Adults find them uncomfortable. Yet, these odd-looking half-shells are lifesavers. Olympic competitors and most competitive bicyclists wear helmets. These athletes understand the consequences of a bad fall or roadway accident.
Bicycle Helmets and Personal Injury Law
If you need another reason to don a helmet, consider the implications of not wearing one on a possible personal injury claim. In many cases, helmet use is irrelevant in accident claims. However, if you suffer an injury that a helmet might have prevented and the jury thinks a reasonable person would have worn a helmet, then the absence of a helmet complicates matters. In cases involving local helmet requirements, compliance can make or break a case. For additional information regarding how bicycle helmets and personal injury law relate, speak with a seasoned Austin bicycle accident lawyer.
Tips for Choosing a Bicycle Helmet
The right fit and structure can change your experience of wearing a helmet. Use these tips to find a comfortable helmet to protect your noggin while you ride:
- Look for vivid colors. A brightly colored helmet improves your visibility to other drivers on the roadway.
- Stay away from bells and whistles. The best helmets feature a few strategically placed vents, a smooth and rounded shell, and thick chin straps for comfort. Consider practical features such as a visor, face protection, and ponytail straps.
- Try on several styles and sizes. A well-fitted helmet should fit snugly against your head without excessive compression. When adjusted, it should sit on the top of your head and protect your forehead. A helmet that moves around easily when you move it from side to side does not fit properly. Look for a helmet that remains snug and secure.
When you find the right helmet, wear it every time you head out for a ride. For children, turn the helmet purchase into a positive experience. Help young people pick out the proper fit and choose a fun color or design. Store the device near or on your bike, and think of it as part of the bicycle experience.