Everyone wants to be safe when they head out on a bike ride. Adults, especially those with children, can agree that helmets are the unequivocal standard for bicycle safety. However, there are a surprising amount of bike helmets available to consumers that do not meet basic safety standards. These helmets are widely available, both in stores and online. And they can cause serious personal injury under the guise of being safe.
There are plenty of unsafe helmets out there
When you go shopping for anything, you should expect that it meets safety standards and is ready for a consumer to use. Unfortunately, we know that dangerous and defective products make it to the market all the time. If you take a look at the government website that tracks current product recalls in the US, you’ll see that nearly every industry is affected.
Bike helmets are supposed to meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards in order to be sold in the United States. However, you do not have to look far to find helmets that fail to do so. A recent Consumer Reports test saw that shoppers, working with testing experts, were able to purchase 13 helmets without CPSC certification. All of these purchases were from major online retail outlets and even from big box stores.
The world of online shopping has opened the market to low-quality products
Traditional walk-in retailers are much more likely to carry bike helmets because they know they could be held liable for selling an unsafe product. Sellers that operate solely online are less likely to be worried about liability. Why is that the case?
- Due to the nature of online sales, it can be hard to figure out who the actual seller is.
- Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress are just intermediaries between the seller and the consumer. It is very hard to hold these marketplaces accountable for faulty products.
Even in cases when online marketplaces ask sellers to provide proof of compliance with safety standards, the system is not foolproof. If you depend on the product’s reviews before making a purchase, you should think again. Studies have shown that an enormous number of online marketplace reviews are fakes.
What can you do to ensure your bike helmet is safe?
There are steps you can take to ensure you purchase a helmet that meets safety standards. First, know that all bike helmets should always include a set of instructions about proper usage. Look for the following information to be present when purchasing a helmet:
- A statement that says the helmet “Complies with U.S. CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for Persons Age 5 and Older” or “Complies with U.S. CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for Persons Age 1 and older (Extended Head Coverage).”
- The name, address, and phone number of the manufacturer or importer issuing the certificate.
- The name and address of the foreign manufacturer if the helmet comes from outside of the US.
- The serial number that allows you to identify the production “lot” of the helmet, along with the month and year it was made.
Your best bet is to buy from trusted sources. This can include big box stores where you can actually hold and inspect the product. Your local bike shop will almost certainly be selling certified bike helmets. Do some research and buy a product that you know will keep you and your family safe.