It's summertime. What a great opportunity to get the bikes out of the garage and enjoy a relaxing ride while getting a little exercise. As enticing as that sounds, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds everyone that consistently 2% of all traffic fatalities involved cyclists. In the under 14- year-old category, that increased to 9%, the majority of which are boys. However, the average age of a fatality is 46 years old, reflecting the increased number of people using their bikes to commute to work (up 51% since 2000), as well as for recreation and fitness. More importantly, nearly a half million individuals were treated for bike-related injuries at the ER, over half of whom were 14 years and under.
Learning and observing the rules of the road and how to properly interact with motorists is critical to safe riding. So is having a properly maintained, well fitted bike.
The third critical safety rule is ALWAYS WEAR A PROPERLY-FITTED HELMET! The NHTSA estimates that if all children between the ages of 4 and 15 wore helmets, it could prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries each year.
IMPORTANT JULY FOURTH REMINDER!
The Franklin Fire Department reminds residents that possessing or using fireworks is illegal in Massachusetts. Even Class C fireworks, including sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, and cherry bombs are illegal. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause horrific burns. It is also illegal to transport fireworks into the state even if purchased legally in another state.
Anyone caught selling fireworks may face $100 to $1000 fines and up to one year in jail. People caught with fireworks may be fined $10 to $100 and the fireworks will be confiscated.
Finding the right helmet
We urge you and your family to always wear a helmet when you ride. Even careful riders can expect to crash every 4500 miles of riding, and maybe sooner than that.
Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can cause concussions and brain injury.
Although standards are no longer a big issue in the U.S., you may want to visit the Bicycle Safety Institute before you shop for a new helmet. This site offers reviews of popular 2019 makes and models, and also provide a list of models that have been recalled for safety issues.
How to fit a helmet
You want the helmet to be comfortably touching the head all the way around, level and stable enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows while still staying in place. It should be low on the head as possible for maximum side coverage, and held level on the head with the strap comfortably snug.
- Adjust the fit pads or ring. One-size-fits-all helmets provide pads that stick to the ring inside the helmet to make the fit tighter. However, sometimes you find that the ring needs to be so tight to remain stable that it is uncomfortable. Try another model. More expensive models may have a dial that gives you more flexibility in adjusting the ring to fit your head.
Helmets also come with other pads to adjust the shape of the inside to fit the shape of your head as well as the size. Remove all pads from the top of the helmet and start with the thinnest ones. This drops the helmet down to provide more side protection. Keep adding pads until you achieve a snug, but comfortable fit, that allows you to see properly.
- Adjust the straps. Try the "Eye-Ear-Mouth" test. When you look up, the front rim should be visible to your eye. You want the rim to hit the ground before your nose does! Then the Y of the side straps should meet just below your ear. And finally, the chin strap should be snug against the chin so that if you open your mouth very wide, you feel the helmet pull down a little bit.
- Try the push test. When you think you have the straps about right, put your palm under the front edge and try to push up and back. If you can move the helmet an inch or so from level, you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear, and maybe loosen the one behind your ear. Now reach around, grab the back edge and pull up. If the helmet moves more than an inch, tighten the back strap. The Y formed by the two straps should still be directly below your ear.
Hint for kids: If the helmet fits well, it is easy to forget you're wearing it. Emphasize to kids, that they need to remove the helmet before climbing trees or playing on playground equipment. There is a small but real risk that the helmet could get caught on something and cause strangulation.
Another hint: Watch out for "strap creep". Some helmets do not have locking pieces on either side where the straps come together under your ear. If you can move the side buckle with your hand, the helmet will migrate when in use. You can hold the original fit by sewing the two straps together with heavy thread for 5 or 6 stitches or by using a rubber band.
Buyer's Guide to Bicycle Helmets
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute offers a free, downloadable guide that provides answers to vital questions on buying the right helmets for your family's bike enthusiasts. It explains how a helmet works, comfort requirements, types of helmets, and how to buy a helmet. It's worth ten minutes of your time to protect your family from serious head injuries. Click here for your copy.
Here's wishing you and your family a safe and happy July 4th holiday and summer season. We'll be back with our next newsletter for Labor Day. But you can follow us all summer on Facebook for more useful news and information.
If you plan on doing significant traveling this summer, let us know in advance of the dates you will be out of town. Share our contact information with your neighbors or friends who will be monitoring your house while you're away. That way they can alert us if there is some serious issue that will result in a claim, so we can handle things for you until you return. Stop by or call us at 508-528-3310 or toll-free at 888-528-3310 for more ideas on how to secure your home while you are on vacation.
Bob Keras & Peter Brunelli
Keefe Insurance Agency
Home . Auto . Business . Life
It is understood that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal or other expert advice is required, the services of a professional should be sought. Insurance information is general in nature; for specific coverage provisions, renewal and contractual provisions, consult your policy.
DID YOU KNOW?
What about buying used helmets at yard sales?
The problem here is that you don't really know if the helmet has received damage that could compromise its ability to protect the rider's head in a crash. The seller may not even be aware of the damage or remember the crash.
What type of helmet is the best?
Most bike helmets are made of EPS foam with a thin plastic shell.The shell helps the helmet to skid easily on rough pavement to minimize neck injury. The shell also holds the foam together on first impact. Some excellent helmets are made by molding the foam directly in the shell rather than adding the shell later.
Beware of design gimmicks. You want a smoothly rounded shell without sharp ribs or snag points. Excessive vents means there is less foam contacting and protecting your head. This could concentrate the force of impact on one point rather than disbursing it somewhat.
So called "aero" helmets do not make you go any faster. But in a crash, the tail could snag and knock the helmet aside. Skinny straps are less comfortable. And dark helmets are less visible to drivers than white or brightly colored ones. Rigid visors can shatter in a fall. These are all features you want to avoid.
How much ventilation is required for summer riding comfort?
Coolness, ventilation, fit and sweat control are all critical comfort issues for summer riding. Air flow over the head determines coolness. Larger front vents permit better air flow. Most current helmets have adequate air flow. A sweatband or bandana can help keep sweat out of eyes. But make sure that the band doesn't interfere with the snug fit of the helmet. And if anyone in the family happens to be bald, be advised that the vents can create an interesting tanning pattern.
When must I replace a helmet?
Replace your helmet if you suffer a crash. The impact crushes some of the foam so the helmet offers less protection for the next crash. Sometimes the damage isn't visible. Today's helmets work so well that you will need to look very closely to find marks or dents that may indicate damage.
Most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every five years. However, this is dependent on how much usage it receives, and some will last longer than five years. However, if your helmet was made before 1990, replace it immediately as standards have changed. If the buckle cracks or chips, replace that immediately too.
Can my son use his skating helmet for biking?
The ASTM standards for biking and inline skating are identical. However, skating and skateboard helmets are designed to take multiple hits with lesser impact severity. Those helmets may not be able to handle bicycle impacts. Do not use a skate helmet for bicycling unless it has a sticker certifying that it meets bicycle helmet safety standards.
Does our homeowners policy cover the family's bicycles?
Yes. The standard homeowners or renters policy covers bicycles for theft. fire, weather damage, or other disaster, less your deductible. Keep your receipts when you buy a new bike and add it to your home inventory.
If you have a particularly expensive bicycle, such as a racing bicycle, you may need to purchase an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy to cover the excess value. We can help advise you on this.
Also your homeowners/renters policy covers you for injury or damage you cause while riding your bike. Usually $1000 or $5000 medical cost limits are typical. If the person you injure decides to sue you, your liability coverage steps in to cover these judgments, up to the limits of your policy.
See this iii.org article for info on this topic.