In Florida, §316.2065(3)(d), Florida Statutes, requires all bicyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.
The law states:
A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap, and that meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 bicycle helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department.
As used in this subsection, the term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle. In addition, law enforcement officers in Florida may issue citations and fines for cyclists who fail to comply with the above bicycle law, although the ticket and fine can be dismissed if the rider later shows proof of the purchase of a helmet.
Pros and Cons of Bicycle Helmets
● There is scientific evidence that, in the event of a fall, helmets substantially reduce head injury. On impact, a helmet acts as a shock absorber, reducing the rate at which the head is decelerated by dissipating the shock of the impact into the soft liner as it crushes.
● Wearing helmets can adversely affect behavior on the roads, and this may outweigh their medical benefits. Studies suggest that drivers are less cautious around cyclists who are wearing helmets and pass closer and faster as they drive past.
● Some studies suggest cyclists may be given a false sense of security while wearing a helmet and take less care themselves.
● Attempts to promote bicycle helmets may have the negative effect of incorrectly linking cycling with danger or presenting cycling as some kind of “extreme sport.”
Unfortunately, the controversy of bicycle helmet use distracts attention away from the fact that the major cause of cyclist casualties is the poor design of roads, which put large vehicles and cyclists into conflict, a situation which cannot be mitigated with helmets alone. And being told that helmets are a necessary nuisance of bicycle riding strongly deters many people from cycling. The loss of cycling’s health benefits to those individuals (not to mention the wider environmental, congestion reducing, community building, and other benefits of cycling) may outweigh any societal benefits helmets could possibly deliver.