Every year, about 1,500 people are killed or injured in bicycling accidents in Hawaii. Nationwide, bicycle accidents are also on the rise. The last decade saw a 36 percent increase in the number of bicyclists killed in accidents with motor vehicles. Even collisions that don’t result in death can cause serious injuries, and it’s usually the cyclist who bears the brunt of the damage.
One way that safety advocates have tried to protect riders is by enacting bicycle helmet laws. If you’re a cyclist in Hawaii, it’s important to be aware of these laws so that you ride responsibly and take every possible step to protect yourself in case of a crash.
The Hawaii bicycle accident lawyers at Recovery Law Center have spent more than 25 years helping accident victims recover fair compensation after being injured on Oahu. Keep reading to learn more about Honolulu’s bicycle helmet laws. For personalized legal support, call or contact our office for a free initial consultation today.
What are Bicycle Helmet Laws in Honolulu, HI?
Honolulu does not have its own local bicycle helmet law. Instead, Honolulu residents and visitors must follow Hawaii’s bicycle helmet laws, which apply to everyone in the state. Anyone under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
Furthermore, the helmet’s design must meet specifications set by a “nationally recognized” safety agency such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the National Safety Council.
In addition, Hawaii’s bicycle helmet law applies to anyone riding on or being towed by a bicycle, not just the person controlling the bike. For example, someone riding in the rear of a tandem bike or a child being towed in a trailer behind the bicycle would be required to wear a helmet if they’re younger than 16.
Other Safety Regulations for Bicyclists in Hawaii
In addition to Hawaii’s bicycle helmet law, there are other safety regulations that bicyclists are required to follow. Cyclists must:
- Use proper hand signals when approaching an intersection to indicate whether they are turning or slowing down. They should use these hand signals when they’re about 100 feet from the intersection.
- Ride with the flow of traffic at all times.
- Ride sober.
- Use the bicycle lane whenever one is available. If there is no bicycle lane, riders should use the right-most lane of traffic. However, bicyclists are allowed to use the center lane in certain circumstances, such as to make a left turn at an intersection or to avoid debris in the right lane.
- Not ride on freeways.
- Avoid riding on sidewalks in business districts. Any cyclist riding on the sidewalk in an area where it is legal must yield to pedestrians, use an audible signal when passing a pedestrian, and ride at 10 miles per hour or less.
- Ride on the road whenever possible.
- Have functioning brakes on their bicycle at all times.
- Ride with bikes equipped with certain safety features, including:
- A front lamp that’s visible from 500 feet away and emits white light
- A red rear reflector that’s visible from 600 feet away
- Reflective material or lamps on both wheels that can be seen from 600 feet away
Why Should You Wear a Helmet?
Aside from the fact that wearing a helmet while riding a bike is required if you’re under a certain age, the primary reason to do so is for safety.
While bicycle accidents can result in a wide variety of injuries, the most serious are traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. These kinds of injuries often result in permanent brain damage, which can impact your ability to move and communicate, as well as your personality and memory.
There’s ample evidence that bicycle helmets when worn properly and designed to meet safety recommendations, do an effective job of preventing traumatic brain injuries. A study in the academic journal Accident Analysis & Prevention found that helmets reduce head injuries overall by 48 percent, serious head injuries by 60 percent, and TBIs by 53 percent. Furthermore, the study’s authors found that helmets also reduced facial injuries by 23 percent and the number of killed or seriously injured cyclists by 34 percent.
Honolulu’s Bicycle Accident Fatality and Injury Rates
With little to shield them from the direct force of impact in a collision, bicyclists often sustain serious and fatal injuries in wrecks. Consider these statistics:
- During one five-year period, 16 out of 17 bicycle accident fatalities involved a motor vehicle, according to the Hawaii Department of Health.
- The Department of Health also reports there were 91 hospital admissions for non-fatal bicycle accidents and 1,065 emergency room visits for non-fatal bike crashes in just three years in Hawaii.
- According to preliminary data submitted by the Hawaii Department of Transportation to the NHTSA, there were 20 bicycle accident fatalities in the state over a recent seven-year period.