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New CDC Report Finds More Adults Are Dying from Bicycle-Related Accidents; CPSC Says it Highlights the Importance of Helmets

Release Date: May 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding consumers of the importance of wearing helmets for sports and recreation to reduce the risk of head injury, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).  Helmets absorb much of the impact energy from a fall or collision, and can protect the skull and brain from more severe injury.

Bike helmets are required to meet CPSC’s federal safety standard.  They must have a label stating that they meet the standard.  Consumers can usually find this label on the liner inside of the helmet, on the exterior surface, or attached to the chin strap.  Information on bike helmets, and helmets for other activities, can be found at CPSC’s “Which Helmet for Which Activity” webpage.

Findings in a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show just how critical helmets are to preventing injuries and deaths.  The report found that from 2009 through 2018:

  • Bicycle-related deaths increased between 2009 and 2018, primarily among adults. (NHTSA data)
  • There were nearly 597,000 bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries treated in hospital emergency departments (ED) in the United States.
  • The rate of ED visits declined by almost 50% among kids, but declined only 6% among adults.
  • Males were three times more likely than females to end up in the ED with traumatic brain injuries.
  • Policies requiring bike helmets have been associated with long-term, sustained bike helmet use and a 20%-55% reduction in head injuries.

CPSC’s recent report on the impact of COVID-19 on hospital emergency room-treated injuries during the period March through September 2020 also highlighted the concern, finding that although bicycles had a slight increase (1%) in overall injuries, the increase jumped to 21% for users age 40 and above, and 39% for adults older than 70.  Injuries from skateboards, scooters, and hoverboards rose 39%.

Although no helmet design has been proven to prevent concussions, CDC’s HEADS UP helps identify concussion symptoms, and when to seek treatment.

To prevent sports-related head injuries, consumers should:

  • Always wear a helmet and other safety gear when bicycling and playing sports.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure the helmet fits and is worn correctly.
  • Replace helmets when needed.  Incidents can impact helmets, and you may not see the damage.  Cracks in the shell, worn straps, and missing pads or other parts are all reasons to replace a helmet.
  • Look for a label inside the helmet stating it meets CPSC’s federal safety standard.
  • When bicycling, scootering, or skateboarding, watch out for cars, and follow rules of the road and local regulations.
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About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.

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