California Considers Bill to Mandate Bicycle Helmets
California currently leads the nation in bicycle accident deaths, raising concerns among many avid bicyclists as well as experienced California bicycle accident lawyers. Bike crashes in California have increased in recent years even as similar crashes in other states have decreased.
In response to these growing concerns, state senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) recently introduced a bill into the state Senate that would require California bicyclists to wear helmets. SB 192 would amend California’s Vehicle Code to require everyone to wear a helmet while “operating a bicycle, riding on a bicycle as a passenger, or riding in a trailer towed by a bicycle.” Bicyclists caught breaking this law could be fined $25.
Currently, California law requires riders to wear helmets in these situations if they are under age 18, with a $25 penalty if the law is violated. SB 192 would expand that requirement to riders of any age. The current version of the bill would also require bicyclists to wear high-visibility safety gear, like a reflective vest or jacket, if they are riding after dark.
Supporters of the bill claim that it will save lives and reduce injuries by preventing crashes and protecting bicyclists when crashes occur. However, the bill also has several opponents. Members of many cycling groups have argued that it will actually reduce interest in bicycling by making the activity appear more dangerous than it really is. Meanwhile, a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times argued that the bill is a bad idea because the science simply doesn’t support it: it is difficult or impossible to estimate how many lives would be saved by requiring helmets. Nonetheless, a properly-fitting bicycle helmet can reduce the severity of a traumatic brain injury or even prevent one in some instances.