Are Bike Helmets Required by Law in Georgia?

Bike helmets provide necessary protection against potential accidents on the road. Without a helmet, collisions with other bicyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles can turn deadly, However, Georgia law only requires bicycle helmets for cyclists under the age of 16.

Georgia Laws on Bicycle Helmets

According the Georgia statute O.C.G.A. 40-6-296, the state requires certain headgear for certain bicyclists. Every cyclist under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet compliant with the American Nation Standards Institute (ANSI). Cyclists over the age of 16 are not required to wear a bicycle helmet in Georgia.

Georgia also does not impose any criminal penalty for not wearing a bicycle helmet. Children who fail to wear a helmet do not receive fines or imprisonment. However, parents of children who do not wear a helmet could receive a misdemeanor charge for failing to provide this necessary piece of safety equipment to their child.

The Importance of Bicycle Helmets in Injury Prevention

Significant research has proven that bicycle helmets lead to fewer bicycle-related deaths and traumatic brain injuries. According to the Think First National Injury Prevention Foundation, bicycle safety is of the utmost importance due to the high death rates involved with vehicle-cyclist collisions.

  • Helmets can prevent 75% of bicycle-related fatalities for children.
  • Bicycle helmets prevent injuries every four minutes.
  • The use of bicycle helmets can prevent anywhere between 85% and 88% of traumatic head and brain injuries.
  • If every child between the ages of 4 and 15 wears a bicycle helmet, children can avoid between 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries annually.
  • If every child between the ages of 4 and 15 wears a helmet, children can avoid between 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries every year.
  • In the year 2000, 90% of cyclists who died during a bicycle accident were not wearing a helmet.

Common Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle helmets are extremely important for reducing the rate of traumatic injuries to cyclists. When struck by a motor vehicle, cyclists can experience severe, life-altering injuries that could lead to permanent disability, long recovery times, and even death. These injuries range from minor to debilitating.

  • Fractures
  • Bowel and renal contusions
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Abrasions
  • Strains
  • Road rash
  • Skull fractures
  • Concussions
  • Cranial hemorrhage
  • Hernia
  • Facial fractures
  • Rib fractures
  • Broken and damaged teeth
  • Pancreatic trauma
  • Traumatic head and brain injuries

The most important reason to wear a helmet is to avoid traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are the most likely to lead to death and head injuries occur in 22% to 47% of bicycle accidents. In addition, head injuries cause 60% of all bicycle fatalities. Head protection is the number-one line of defense against these injuries and can significantly increase a cyclist’s chances at survival.

Negligence and Bicycle Helmets

Although Georgia law does not require bicycle helmets for cyclists over the age of 16, all cyclists should aim to equip themselves with one. Not only can these helmets save a cyclist’s life in the event of an accident, but they can also limit the arguments a negligent motorist can make during a personal injury lawsuit.

If a cyclist decides to sue a motorist to receive compensation for injuries, both parties will have the opportunity to make their case to the jury. If a cyclist does not wear a helmet at the time of the accident and experiences severe head injuries, the at-fault driver’s attorney could place liability on the cyclist. Even if the victim was a child, the attorney will still use this argument in order to reduce the at-fault driver’s settlement payment.

Georgia law does state that failure to wear a helmet is not a form of negligence on part of the cyclist. However, defense attorneys could use this argument to make a strong and compelling case in favor of the at-fault driver. In order to reduce the other party’s ammunition, all cyclists should wear helmets in case of an accident.

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