In the state of Pennsylvania, bicycles are considered vehicles when on the road and are required to abide by the same laws. They must ride with the flow of traffic (although on the right and in a bicycle lane if present), they must observe stop signs and other traffic signals, and they must yield the right of way to others when required. They must also observe bicycle helmet laws.
The bicycle helmet law in Pennsylvania is as follows: bicycle helmets are only required to be worn by any persons under the age of 12. This applies to the person operating the bicycle and any passengers or persons riding in an attached trailer or seat.
Although the bicycle helmet law only applies to riders under the age of 12, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and other experts recommend that bicyclists of all ages wear helmets. This is the most effective way to reduce incidents of injury and/or death in bicycle accidents.
More on Pennsylvania's Bicycle Helmet Law
Bicycle helmets must be in line with Approved Helmet Safety Standards, which includes regulations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), The Snell Foundation, and/or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). CPSC regulations have been the standard in U.S. law since 1999.
If you are purchasing a helmet for yourself or a loved one, be sure to do your research. In addition to reading reviews of the helmet, make sure it meets CPSC standards and fits appropriately. This is the best way to ensure it will be most effective in preventing (or minimizing) serious head trauma or brain injuries in the event of an accident.
How Often Do Car Accidents & Bicycle Crashes Occur?
Every year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports on the number of traffic accidents statewide, including the number of incidents, deaths, and injuries. Each year the report includes the collected statistics for the previous five years and includes a comprehensive list of all ages, days, times, and locations that play a factor in traffic accidents.
In 2016, Pennsylvania car accidents totaled 129,395, with 1,188 deaths and 82,971 injuries. 1,304 of these were bicycle accidents, resulting in 16 deaths and 1,298 injuries. Spread out over a year, that’s more than 3 bicycle accidents in Pennsylvania every day. Most of these bicycle accidents will result in lifelong medical expenses and significant loss of productivity.
Looking at 2011 to 2016, 2016 has the highest accident rate. The year with the lowest accident rate was 2014 with 121,317 accidents. Philadelphia, being the largest city in Pennsylvania, averaged the highest number of working bicyclists in the entire state during 2013. Philadelphia came in with a reported crash high of 541 bicycle accidents in 2013, with the overall number of crashes being 1,383, but resulting in zero deaths.
Always Observe Bicycle Helmet Laws in Your Area
The bicycle helmet law in Pennsylvania is in place to protect children from suffering catastrophic harm in falls or collisions while riding their bikes. Even though this law only applies to kids under the age of 12, you should consider wearing a helmet regardless of your age.
Head trauma is one of the most serious types of injuries a person can experience. It can cause brain damage, which may lead to memory problems, personality changes, cognitive difficulties, and a host of other problems. It can even cause death. A standard bicycle helmet will offer the most protection against such trauma if you should fall off your bike, be struck by a vehicle, or run into anything. So, be sure to know the bicycle helmet law in your area, and consider wearing a helmet—no matter what the law says.
For more information and to find out about your rights and options after a bicycle accident, call the Pennsylvania injury attorneys at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC. We're here to help you!