Everyone should wear a helmet while bicycling. Bicycle helmets greatly reduce the risk of serious brain injury from a bicycle crash.
There is no statewide helmet law, but the Code of Virginia § 46.2-906.1 gives a county, city, or town the authority to require anyone 14 years old or younger to wear a helmet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard when riding or being carried on a bicycle. VDOT maintains a list of localities with helmet laws www.vdot.virginia.gov/programs/bk-laws.asp#Helmet Use.
When buying a helmet, look for the CPSC label.
- Helmet should sit level and not shift easily.
- V-straps should fit beneath the ear lobes.
- Chin strap should be snug, about two fingers-width under the chin.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers illustrated instructions here.
Crash it, trash it. When the helmet hits a hard surface, replace it. Even if you don’t see a dent, the foam may be damaged and unable to absorb a shock in the future. Other recommendations for replacement can be found at http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm