How Counterfeit Bicycle Helmets Make Their Way to the US Market

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Bicycling is a great form of exercise, which you can make a habit of without feeling forced to do it, when en route to your workplace or school or a picturesque destination. However, when cyclists share the same road with other motorists, they also have a risk of sustaining severe bodily injuries or being fatally injured, since they have little to no protection from the collision forces.

Putting on a bicycle helmet every time you ride a bike can help to protect yourself from serious injuries when thrown from it or hit on the head in accidents. Not just any helmet will do though. You have to be careful when you buy a bicycle helmet to get the maximum protection. Sadly, a recent National Public Radio report says that fake bicycle helmets are flooding the US market through the internet these days.

The helmets do not conform to the standards for bike helmets outlined by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are made to look like helmets from companies that meet or exceed the stipulated safety standards, but actually lack key safety features. Made out of rigid and cheap quality plastic, and having thinner cushioning on their inside, it is understandable why such counterfeit helmets have always failed safety tests. The fake products do not have fiber skeletons on the interior either, which helps to avoid them from breaking when riders hit their head.

In a test conducted by Specialized Bicycles upon Specialized Evade II and a counterfeit helmet, the latter version failed key tests. When testers put the fake helmet on a dummy’s head and pulled its straps, it came off. In order to protect bicyclists in accidents, it has to stay in place and keep the helmet secured, which was not the case with the counterfeit one. In another test, it was strapped to an equipment unit before being lifted up 5 feet and smacked down onto one anvil. The counterfeit product broke in half, whereas the authentic one did not break at all. The company said that a rider who hits his/her head in a bicycle accident while wearing the fake one would probably have sustained a brain injury, skull fracture, or even have died due to the accident.

The growth of e-commerce websites has led to an influx of counterfeit goods. The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center is an agency tasked with prosecuting the companies that sell them, comprising fake helmets. A spokesperson said that ninety percent counterfeit goods seized a couple of years ago arrived as express shipments or mail from overseas.

Specialized bicycle companies also have a team monitoring many different e-commerce sites for counterfeit cycle helmets. One of its team members noted there were over 34,000 China-made helmet listings on eBay. The company notifies the sites when it identifies the listings for fake helmets, and the websites take them down when they learn about the same.

Some offenders still open new accounts on e-commerce sites and start listing counterfeit helmets again. The company takes repeat violators to the court, and has also worked with authorities from China to close down some counterfeit helmet manufacturing facilities in the Asian nation.

How it Affects you as a Consumer

What makes it tricky for consumers is that counterfeit helmets resemble the authentic ones on the exterior, weigh less than the genuine products owing to the cheaper construction, and might have logos purporting they meet European standards. However, the counterfeit products will not have any sign that they meet the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards. Oftentimes, they are priced considerably below authentic helmets. This price variance is a clear giveaway of counterfeits.

California’s Bicycle Helmet Laws

Under the California Vehicle Code Section 21212(a), those who are below 18 years of age have to wear a bicycle helmet when they ride bicycles, roller skates, skateboards, non-motorized scooters, or inline skates on streets, public trails, or bicycle paths. The product should conform to the standards laid out by the American Society for Testing and Materials or USPSC. If bicyclists are caught either without a helmet or with one that does not comply with them, it may lead to a fine.

People who are aged above 18 years are not necessitated by the statute to wear a bicycle helmet. However, all bicyclists should rather wear helmets meeting the standards and other safety equipment when they ride. That is one way to protect against fatal injuries when struck by other vehicles.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in California When Required

If you have or your family member has sustained a brain injury following an accident due to a bicycle helmet’s failure, then you may also have legal rights. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer may help you identify all the prospective guilty parties, so that you may recover compensation from them to pay for the losses you sustained. Contact a law office in your California area for scheduling a consultation as soon as possible, so that you can understand more about your prospective claim.