California Bicycle Helmet Laws

To wear a helmet or not to wear a helmet? That is the question that many bicyclists ask themselves on a regular basis. Whether you are new to the cycling world, are a veteran bicyclist, or a parent wondering how to keep your child safe, helmets are bound to come up in discussion fairly regularly. However, do you actually know what California law says about bicycle helmets? Here, we want to discuss the basic California bicycle helmet laws as well as some of the consequences of not wearing a helmet.

What are the Bicycle Helmet Laws in California?

In the state of California, any bicyclists age 18 and older are not required to wear a bicycle helmet while riding. However, any bicyclist under the age of 18 is required to wear a bicycle helmet while riding. The law specifically says that any person under the age of 18 must have a helmet that fits properly, fastens correctly, and adheres to acceptable safety standards. For those required to wear a helmet, they must do so when they are on the street, on bike paths, or on any public trails or pathways.

Additionally, this helmet law also applies to children under the age of 18 who are using roller skates, non-motorized scooters, or skateboards in those same areas. A violation of this law will result in a $25 fine that the child’s parent or guardian will have to pay. Any person under the age of 18 will not be required to wear a helmet if they are in their own yard or driveway or on other types of private property.

When we are discussing the acceptable safety standards for bicycle helmets in the state of California, we need to look specifically at helmets approved by either the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSP) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). It is important to note that there are many counterfeit helmets that claim to meet these standards available for sale online. The best bet for any parent or guardian is to purchase a helmet from a retailer in person or from a reputable online retailer that can be properly vetted.

Consequences of not Wearing a Bicycle Helmet

Regardless of what the law says, the reality is that studies have shown that bicycle helmets prevent injuries and save lives. Our bodies, in particular our heads, are not made to withstand the impact of a collision with another vehicle or with the ground. Even though not all bicycle accident injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet, severe brain damage can be prevented.

When we look at data available from the California Office of Traffic Safety, we can see that there were 133 fatalities and more than 10,000 injuries that occurred as a result of bicycle accidents during the latest reporting year across the state. If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a bicycle accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, you need to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. A skilled Orange County bicycle accident attorney can use their resources to fully investigate the incident and help secure the compensation you are entitled to.