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Bicycle helmets are a lot like automobiles: they’re most effective at protecting their users when they’re used correctly. As with any safety equipment, they are not a guarantee of safety.
There are many benefits associated with helmet use, but the most important one is that helmets do reduce injuries and deaths. The data shows that helmeted riders get hurt less often than unhelmeted riders. (And if you’re not convinced about the effectiveness of helmets, here is our response).
However, there is no evidence that helmets need to be kept on in order for them to work effectively. You can remove your helmet briefly at stop signs or red lights if the situation allows. Just remember to put it back on before you start moving again!
There are other factors that may affect a cyclist’s risk of injury more than helmet use—issues like riding position and clothing selection. This study demonstrated that even when riders wearing bike helmets were involved in accidents, their chances of serious injury were lower than the chances for cyclists who weren’t wearing helmets.