NC Bicycle Helmet Initiative Enters its Seventh Year of Protecting Children
Each year, North Carolina sees an average of 20 bicyclists die. For every six deaths, one is a child younger than 16 years old. Our emergency rooms see young riders for bicycle accident injuries at a rate higher than for any other sport.
Even though North Carolina law only requires children younger than age 16 to wear helmets, our Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers strongly recommend their use by all riders, young and old. Of course, not everyone can afford helmets, but we are proud to live in a state that effectively addresses the affordability issue.
How the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Works
As explained by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT), the Bicycle Helmet Initiative has been distributing bicycle helmets to low-income children since 2007. Each year, the initiative takes applications from schools, police departments and other groups. Approved groups receive helmet distributions from the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. Those helmets go to children from families that cannot afford to purchase helmets on their own.
Our Lawyers Recommend Riders Purchase License Plates
The law does not require bicyclists to purchase license plates. However, even as helmets promote additional safety in the event of bicycle accidents, license plates provide certain benefits, such as the following:
- Identifying injured bicyclists and providing contact information even when other identification cannot be found after an accident
- Certifying financial responsibility as required by law
- Promoting rider support for bicycle and highway safety
- Funding the Bicycle Helmet Initiative
Every Share the Road License Plate purchase provides $20 to the Initiative — the only reported funding method for the program. Since the basic current plate costs $30, the majority of these funds helps provide the safety of helmets to more low-income children.
The Opportunity for Safety Increases When Riders Know the Law
Bicyclists are not immune from NC law; they are expected to follow most of the same rules of the road as other motorists, The North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Laws published by the North Carolina Department of Transportation clearly defines the laws specific to bicyclists. All bicyclists are expected to know the following laws:
- Bicycle lights and reflectors are required for anyone riding from sunset to sunrise and other low-light conditions.
- Bicyclist behavior rules require riders to drive in the same direction as other traffic. Riders need to learn what constitutes “reckless driving.”
- Signs and signals apply to bicycles in most situations.
- Interaction with others should include signaling turns and knowing how to turn left and right in accordance with the rules of the road.
- Yielding right-of-way applies to bikes under certain circumstances. In addition to yielding to pedestrians, riders must learn when to yield to other vehicles.
In Charlotte, our bicycle accident lawyers have seen too many accidents that occur even when helmeted riders judiciously follow all rules of the road. The best accident is one that never happens, so we recommend that bicyclists exceed the specifications of the law. In the event that an accident happens, we encourage injury victims to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Call us at 800-948-0577, or use our convenient online contact form to learn how to proceed with a claim.