If you live in or near Walnut Creek, you know how great the area is for bicyclists. Still, whether you ride every day or only occasionally, you must prioritize your personal safety. Unfortunately, a collision with a negligent motorist may leave you with life-altering injuries. 

The National Safety Council notes that about 33% of non-fatal bicycling injuries involve the head. While there is not a tremendous amount of data on the effectiveness of cycling helmets, wearing one may save your life. Nevertheless, an old or damaged helmet may become ineffective. Here are four times you should replace your riding headgear:

  1. Shell damage 

The outer shell of your helmet should only have one opportunity to protect you from a traumatic brain injury. That is, if you have been in a crash, you should always replace your riding helmet. This is true whether or not your helmet appears to have sustained damage. Remember, even imperceptibly small cracks can put your health at risk.

  1. Frayed straps 

To function properly, your cycling helmet must stay in place. Sun, sunblock, sweat and other external factors can weaken your helmet’s straps. If you notice rips, tears or frays, you should replace your helmet immediately.

  1. Worn MIPS 

If you have a high-quality helmet, there is a good chance that it has a multi-directional impact system. The MIPS fits inside the helmet and offers maximum protection during a variety of crashes. You should not attempt to remove or otherwise tinker with the MIPS. Instead, inspect the system for signs of wear. If you see any, you should probably buy new headgear.

  1. Old age 

Like virtually all pieces of cycling gear, your helmet has a shelf life. Typically, you can wear a helmet for three years without worrying about its integrity or reliability. When you buy a new helmet, you should always read through its user’s guide. This information will likely tell you when the helmet’s manufacturer recommends replacing it.

While wearing a safety-rated helmet is a good way to reach your destination without sustaining a serious injury, you must keep an eye on your headgear. If your helmet is not in tip-top shape, replace it before your next ride.