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Could Your Bike Helmet Pass This Test?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that bicycle helmets can reduce the odds of a head injury by 50 percent. But if you’ve shopped for one lately, it can make your head spin. With hundreds of helmets ranging in style, capability and price… how do you choose?

A first-of-its-kind research study conducted by the IIHS and Virginia Tech hopes to change that and make helmet safety easier to understand.

Building a better test

The study rated, on a scale of one to five stars, how 30 adult bicycle helmets held up in conditions that realistically mimic the angle and force of impact of bike crashes. Most helmets achieved a three- to four-star rating, but four helmets earned the highest rating of five stars.

Interestingly, the highest-priced helmets weren’t always the top performers. The four top-rated helmets varied in price from $75 to $200, but they all had one thing in common – MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system) technology, a double-layered system that provides advanced protection for the head.

Can safer helmets lead to fewer injuries?

In 2016, 835 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Of those, nearly half were not wearing helmets.

The IIHS hopes that this research leads to more safety innovations from bike helmet manufacturers – just like their research on cars has led to standard safety features like air bags, headrests and bumpers within the automobile industry. (Learn more about the science of road safety at the IIHS.)

"As more people choose the bicycle as a mode of transportation, better helmet design is one of the tools that can be used to address the increasing number of cycling injuries," said David Zuby, chief research officer at IIHS and a frequent bike commuter, in a statement announcing the study

Check out the full study results on the IIHS website and see how your helmet compares.

6 Tips for Choosing a Bike Helmet

Pro tip: When trying on a helmet, put it on but don’t fasten the straps yet. Then, find the right fit with these tips from the League of American Bicyclists:

  • Make sure the helmet is level.
  • There should be two-fingers width from the top of your eyebrows to the front of the helmet.
  • If you shake your head from side to side, the helmet should move only minimally.
  • The side straps should land just below your ears. To adjust them, move the small tabs until they are a half inch or less under your earlobe.
  • The chin strap should also be about a half inch below your chin (when your mouth is closed).
  • Remember: Wearing a bike helmet with loose straps is the same as not wearing a helmet at all!

Wherever you go – on two wheels or four – Erie Insurance is here to help you live your good life, uninterrupted and worry-free. Learn more about the ERIE difference.

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