N.Y. (WETM) — As part of Bicycle Safety Month, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is urging people to wear helmets while riding bikes.

“Helmets are not just for children, they are a vital piece of safety equipment that can save the lives of bikers of all ages,” said New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “As New Yorkers across the state begin to take advantage of the warmer weather by biking in one of our state’s many beautiful bike trails, parks or streets, I urge all riders to put on their helmets and proper safety gear before beginning their adventures on two wheels.”

According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, there were 1,455 police-reported bicycle crashes where helmets were worn in 2021. Seven of those crashes resulted in at least one death, and 121 resulted in at least one serious injury. There were 3,946 police-reported crashes where helmets were not worn during the same year. At least one fatality occurred in 32 of those crashes, and at least one serious injury occurred in 378 of those crashes.

The Division of Consumer Protection released some tips about proper helmet-wearing to protect bike riders. It’s important to wear a helmet that is specifically designed for bike riding so you’re properly protected if an accident occurs. It’s also important to make sure that the helmet fits comfortably and snuggly. Helmets only work when they are worn properly, which includes using a chin strap. Your bike should have a chin strap that remains buckled and laying flat against your chin the entire time you’re riding.

Your helmet should conform to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. When purchasing a bike helmet, look for a label that says “Complies with U.S. CPSC Safety Standards for Bicycle Helmet.” The Division of Consumer Protection says not to add anything to your helmet that doesn’t come with it. This includes paint, stickers, coverings, and attachments. All of these can impact the effectiveness of the foam in the helmet.

It’s important to replace your helmet as needed. You should always replace your helmet after a fall or crash. If stored properly, you should also replace your helmet every 5 to 10 years, or when the manufacturer’s guide recommends. Bike helmets need to be replaced if they have any damage, such as cracks and worn foam lining.

Wearing a helmet helps protect you during a crash, and riding responsibly helps prevent crashes in the first place. Bicyclists must follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists. This includes riding with the flow of traffic. When possible, bicyclists should ride away from traffic in parks, on trails, and on bike paths.

For more safety tips and regulations, you can visit the New York DMV’s website.