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Just to reiterate: Helmets save bicyclists' lives

If Seattle residents listen to the news every day, they are bound to hear about tragic bicycle accidents that result in serious injury and death. For instance, in Boston, a 37-year-old woman was recently crushed under a semi truck; a 63-year-old woman was killed when someone speeding in a pickup truck hit her; and a 41-year-old man was hit in one of the city's suburbs and the driver left the scene. All of these bicycle accidents happened within the last two months, and two of the crashes happened in the same week.

Statistics like this are not unfamiliar to Seattle-area riders. That is why most cyclists in the city take every precaution they can to avoid personal injury. However, it's not a bad idea to remind riders to continue protecting themselves even in what might seem like the smallest of ways.

The director of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, located in Arlington, Virginia, points out that too many bicyclists leave their helmet straps too loose or even unbuckled. Essentially, this situation could have the same catastrophic results as not wearing a helmet at all.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helmet use prevents 85 percent of head injuries. Still, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute reported that 75 percent of all bicycle crashes in New York City involve a head injury, and sadly 97 percent of those who died were not wearing a helmet.

Riding a bike in Washington state certainly carries risks, but that doesn't mean cyclists should have to ride in fear. Drivers have a legal obligation to watch out for bicyclists and share the road. A combination of that behavior and cyclists' taking the proper safety precautions should help our city avoid the problems faced by so many bicyclists across the country.


Source: Common Health, "Don't Be A Bicycling Statistic: One Key Way To Stay Safer," Carey Goldberg, Sept. 21, 2012

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