Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Dangers of Defective Bicycle Helmets

Bicyclists wear helmets to help prevent or lessen serious head trauma in the unfortunate event that they are involved in an accident. From the time they first learn to ride a bike, children are told over and over that wearing a helmet can save their lives in a crash. Some states even have laws requiring that cyclists wear helmets and violators face expensive fines. There is little doubt that a good helmet can validate these points and help protect riders, but what happens if a rider is wearing a defective helmet? The truth is that a defective helmet can give riders a false sense of security, and in some situations, can be more dangerous than not wearing a helmet at all.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has certain requirements that bicycle helmets must meet in order to be sold in stores. If a helmet fails to meet these standards during testing, the manufacturer must issue a recall. Manufacturers may issue recalls that are not required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) if they do not feel their product meets expectations, even if it passes required tests.

Most issues that would cause a helmet to be defective involve poor design, faulty materials, or negligent manufacturing. Faulty chin straps or strap rivets can cause helmets to come loose during an accident, rendering the helmet useless (or at least less effective). Problems with the shell of a helmet can mean that forces of impact would not be properly distributed. Faulty lining or padding could cause similar issues. Missing information or mislabeling can lead people to use helmets while performing activities for which they are not designed. For example, a skateboarding helmet may not adequately protect a bicyclist, and might be considered defective if it does not clearly state that it is only made for skateboard riders.

In order to avoid risking unnecessary injury due to a defective helmet, both serious and casual cyclists should pay close attention to recalls. New recalls can be found on the CPSC website, manufacturer websites, or various other resources online and in the news. Unfortunately, some defects may not be caught and there are situations where products that do not meet CPSC testing standards manage to stay on store shelves. Riders injured while wearing defective helmets may be eligible to receive compensation from manufacturers.

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Label: Bicycle helmets, bike helmet, custom helmets

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