While the state of Texas does not have an overall bicycle helmet law, many cities do have regulations in place that require young riders to wear a helmet on public roads and other public areas. This includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston. There are also no current laws at the state level regarding e-bikes.
It is important to understand how wearing a helmet can protect you and whether the local ordinances require your child to wear a helmet when riding their bike on public sidewalks, in local parks, and with you on neighborhood roads. This can prevent citations, as well as reduce the risk of serious, life-altering injuries.
Local Helmet Laws Differ by City
Since there is no statewide law regulating bicycle helmet use, each city or county puts its own rules in place if the local leaders choose to do so. These can vary, so it is important for you to be familiar with the ordinances that apply where you ride. A local police officer can likely answer your question if a quick Google search does not do the trick.
Some examples include:
- In McKinney, TX, there are no regulations to date. However, “Wearing a helmet is strongly encouraged.”
- Before the law changed in 2014, all riders required a helmet in Dallas, according to The Dallas Morning News. Now only cyclists under age 18 are required to wear one.
- In Austin, TX, Children ages 17 and under are required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or any other “micromobility device” such as a scooter, tricycle, or similar ride-on toy.
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Why Are Bicycle Helmets So Important?
Wearing a bicycle helmet is a key step in protecting yourself or your child in the event of a crash. While it is a good idea for adults, head protection is especially important for children because:
- They are more likely to fall off their bike without another vehicle involved
- Their brains are not yet fully developed and may be more susceptible to injury
- They are more likely to make a mistake that leads to a car versus bike crash
- They are smaller, making it more difficult for drivers and others to see them
Most traffic accidents involving bicyclists occur in more urban areas. It is generally not the well-trained cyclist riding along a West Texas highway who is hit. Instead, it is the urban commuter, recreational in-town rider, or family crossing a busy city intersection. This is, perhaps, one reason why many larger cities have helmet laws while more rural communities are less likely to have them.
Of course, regardless of the applicable law, wearing a helmet is a good choice for any cyclist. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), about sixty percent of all fatal injuries suffered by cyclists hit by cars are head injuries. While this can occur while wearing an approved bike helmet, it is much less likely. TxDot states that your head injury risk goes down by 85 percent when you wear a helmet.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents and Injuries in Texas?
While it is possible to crash on your bike without a motor vehicle involved—because of poor road maintenance, swerving to avoid another cyclist, a wild animal, or hitting debris on the road—the most common cause of bicycle injuries is getting hit by a car, truck, or another vehicle.
In many cases, the driver of a vehicle hits a cyclist because they were simply not paying enough attention to the road ahead and the traffic around them. Some common causes of bicycle versus car collisions include:
- Distracted driving
- Not leaving enough space—usually at least three feet—when passing a cyclist
- Not looking for bikes, such as when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot
- Failure to yield in turns
- Unsafe lane changes
- Running a signal or sign
- Drunk or impaired driving
- Opening a car door into the bike lane after parallel parking
All of these accidents could have been prevented and occurred because of the driver’s negligence. The cyclist may have a case for compensation based on what happened and the injuries they suffered.
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Your Rights After a Texas Bike Versus Car Collision
Texas tort laws allow injured accident victims to recover compensation from those who caused their collisions and injuries. In a bicycle versus car crash, this may mean the cyclist can file an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover money from the careless or reckless driver who hit them.
The damages recoverable include money for hospital bills, future care needs, lost wages, property replacement, pain and suffering, and more. It is important to know, though, that not wearing a helmet could affect your ability to recover compensation for all your losses. This is especially true if you suffered a head injury a helmet might have prevented.
You can get help pursuing damages and learn more about your legal options by working with a bicycle accident lawyer near you.
Time is of the essence however, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 you generally have two years from when the injury occurred of pursuing any type of case. After that, it will be hard to start a case.
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Underwood Law Office provides free consultations for bicycle accident victims and their families. If we represent you in your claim or lawsuit, we will not ask you to pay us anything upfront. We only work based on contingency. Connect with us today to get started.