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Bicycle Helmets Often Sold Without Compliance with Safety Standards: Report

A new report suggests that many bicycle helmets sold throughout the U.S. do not provide the required labeling about the level of protection provided against trauma and skull fractures, and many do not meet federal safety standards.

Consumer Reports (CR) issued a bicycle helmet safety report earlier this month, highlighting the widespread availability of potentially unsafe helmets sold by major on-line retailers, including Amazon.com, Sears.com and others.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has set performance standards for bicycle helmets, to ensure they are adequately designed to prevent skull fractures or severe brain injuries. All helmets sold in the U.S. legally must pass those standards and carry a detailed label depicting the compliance with CPSC standards.

Despite these laws, researchers from Consumer Reports were able to purchase 13 bicycle helmets from commonly used websites, which did not contain any labels certifying CPSC compliance.

Of the 13 helmets purchased for the study, several of them were equipped with labels complying with European CE safety standards, which do not require helmets withstand impacts as strong as the CPSC requires, leaving them unqualified for sale in the U.S.

Researchers noted that the omission of a safety sticker does not necessarily mean the helmets would not pass safety standards. However, the labels are the first way consumers can recognize that the helmets are safe to use.

Consumer Reports released a “Don’t Buy: Safety Risk” report on July 1, naming three bicycle helmets that failed the group’s safety testing, and could leave consumers at risk of serious injury.

The list included the Bontrager Ballista MIPS helmet, Morpher Flat Folding Helmet and the Woom Kids Helmet. Consumer Reports indicates the helmets were dangerous due to failing retention systems, and inadequate side and rear impact absorption standards; which are intended to protect riders from skull fractures.

The consumer watchdog group encourages consumers to always do their research when purchasing a bicycle helmet and indicated actual stores are less likely to sell counterfeit or illegal helmets.

Consumer Reports stated riders should always wear a helmet to prevent head injuries. Cyclists should not stop wearing a helmet because it was named on the do not buy list, rather, the group is encouraging cyclists to continue wearing the helmets until they can replace them, as wearing any helmet is always safer than none.

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