A bike helmet is a critical piece of safety equipment, and it can protect you in an accident. It can lower the odds of a serious head injury.
However, it is important to understand that the helmet may also increase the odds that you will get in that accident in the first place. It could cause you to take more risks. Two different studies have shown how this works.
In one study, researchers looked at the behavior of drivers near cyclists who had helmets on and near cyclists who did not. When those drivers passed the bikers without the helmets, they gave them a bit more room. When they passed the cyclists with helmets, they drove closer to them. This suggests that they were willing to increase the risk of a crash due to the impression that the helmeted cyclists were safer.
The same goes for the people wearing the helmets, however. Another study gave some participants baseball caps and others helmets. The researchers lied and told the participants that they were not studying risk, but just tracking eye movement.
They then gave the people numerous activities to do. In some cases, the helmets had no realistic impact on the test. For example, they just had to do virtual exercises on a screen, such as putting air into a balloon without popping it. There was no real balloon and the helmet did not offer any actual protection. Even so, people with helmets took greater risks than those without helmets.
This isn’t to tell you not to wear a helmet, but just to illustrate the risks you still face. If you get injured in an accident, you may need to seek financial compensation.