The weather is warming up and as the days lengthen more people are riding bicycles as transportation to work or school, for sport and training, exercising, or just to have fun. Did you know that most States have bicycle laws and Pennsylvania is one of them? Furthermore bicycles are considered a vehicle and rules of the road apply to all drivers of vehicles regardless of age or vehicle type. Familiarizing yourself and following these laws, safety rules, and using common sense will lessen your chances of accidents and injuries when out bicycling. You can find information about bicycling and laws in the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual which can be found on PennDOT’s website or by clicking the link ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/PubsForms/Publications/PUB%20380.pdf.
One of the most important laws and safety precautions for bicycle riding is wearing a helmet. Helmets are required by law for children age 12 and under in the state of Pennsylvania and must meet the level of quality or excellence of a nationally recognized standard for pedalcycle helmet approval. Wearing a helmet is also advisable for anyone who drives a bicycle, is a passenger on a bicycle, or a trailer towed by a bicycle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle helmets offer the best protection from head injuries resulting from bicycle crashes and the helmet laws have proved effective in increasing bicycle helmet use. NHTSA statistics demonstrate that bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in mitigating head and brain injuries which makes helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. 70% of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries and only about 20-25% of all bicyclist wear helmets. Universal bicycle helmet use by children 4-15 years old would prevent 39,000 head injuries, 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually. These statistics and others can be found at www.nhtsa.gov and show that wearing a helmet when bicycling helps to reduce injury and fatalities.
If a bicycle accident does occur and a head injury is evident, it is advisable to go to the Hospital or your Doctor for an evaluation. If symptoms arise 24-48 hours after an injury to your head or body such as having a headache that gets worse, feeling very drowsy and cannot be woken up, can’t recognize people or places, repeated vomiting, unusual behavior such as confusion and irritability, seizures, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, unsteady on your feet, have blurred vision, or have slurred speech you should call or be taken to the Emergency Department right away because this could be a medical emergency.
This year protect you and your family from accidents and injuries associated with bicycling. Learning the laws of bicycling and by wearing a helmet you will reduce your risks of injuries or possibly even death. Universal helmet usage could prevent one death every day and one brain injury every 4 minutes. For further information regarding bicycle safety, helmet usage, and head trauma visit us, Performance Spine and Sports Medicine of Newtown at pssmnewtown.com or give us a call 215-504-2223.