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Do Adults Need To Wear Their Bicycle Helmets?

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Most parents know children are required to wear bicycle helmets, but many adults never think to put one on themselves.

That decision could put them on a collision course with disaster when they hit the road.

Lisa Hoffman says strapping on a bike helmet may have saved her life when a roller blader cut her off and her bicycle flipped over.

“I noticed my bike helmet cracked. And at that moment, that’s when I realized this helmet saved my life,” Hoffman told CBS 2’s Chris Wragge.

Dr. Melissa Barton of the American College of Emergency Physicians says wearing a helmet is the “single most important thing” you can do to determine “whether or not you live or die from a bicycle accident.”

Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of injury by up to 85%, Wragge reports. However, in 2008, 91% of cyclists killed weren’t wearing a helmet. Twenty-two states have helmet laws, but none require cyclists older than age 17 to wear one.

Even a light blow to the head could turn out to be serious.

“The space between the skull and the brain gets larger, Barton said, “And that empty space has very tiny blood vessels, so riding a bike without a helmet and hitting your head, can cause those little tiny blood vessels to tear.”

Randy Swart of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute says style is just one of the reasons adults decide not to wear the headgear.

“They didn’t wear one as a child, and so they really don’t see the need for it,” Swart told Wragge.

Swart says the cost of buying helmets shouldn’t hold people back because even lower priced brands can offer protection.

“You can buy the cheapest thing on the market and still get the helmet you need,” Swart said.

And Hoffman offered some words of advice to those adults who still aren’t convinced a helmet is necessary.

“You can be the best rider in the world. It doesn’t matter. It’s what happens in a split second,” Hoffman said.

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