With more people choosing to bike to work and for recreation, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.
Having the right bike helmet can significantly cut the risk of injury, but up until now there was not a standardized rating that consumers could use to determine the effectiveness of a bike helmet. A new ratings program, based on research by Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), changes that.
The program used more rigorous tests than required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for example, taking into account the angle at which a bicyclist’s head is likely to strike the pavement in a crash.
The number of stars assigned to each helmet represents how effectively that model reduces overall injury risk. Only four of the 30 helmets tested in the initial round earned a 5-star rating. All four are equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which helps to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.
With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.
The I.I.I. has facts & statistics on bicycle crashes here.