Riding a bike is an important skill for children to learn. Bike riding is a healthy physical activity that develops a child’s coordination while also promoting independence. It’s also just plain fun. Many adults will tell you that learning how to ride a bike provided them with many happy childhood memories.
Riding a bicycle is not all fun and games, though. Riding a bike can be dangerous, and even deadly if safety precautions are not taken. According to the CDC, “over 1,000 bicyclists died and…[there were] almost 467,000 bicycle-related injuries” in 2015 alone.
In order to reduce the likelihood of an accident, parents must teach their children how to be safe while riding a bicycle. Part of learning how to ride a bike is learning how to take proper safety precautions. Not all accidents can be avoided, but if the proper safety precautions are taken, severe injury and death can be prevented.
Always Wear A Helmet
The most important piece of bike safety equipment you could own is a properly fitted helmet. A properly fitted helmet can prevent injury to the skull and brain. Wearing a helmet may seem like an obvious part of bike riding, however, children will often leave their helmets behind when they go biking.
Children might give several reasons for why they do not want to wear a helmet, including not liking how it looks on them. No matter what a child might argue, there is absolutely no excuse to go without wearing a helmet.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), “universal bicycle helmet use by children ages 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries, and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.”
According to that same DOT report, “Bicycle helmets are 85-88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes”. Wearing a helmet can mean the difference between life and death while riding a bicycle.
Make Eye Contact with Oncoming Traffic
Learning to make eye contact with a person driving a car or even another bike is an important habit to develop. Making eye contact with an oncoming driver lets them know there is a cyclist on the road. Ensuring bike riders are seen ensures their safety.
Making eye contact with oncoming traffic can also help you make sure that you know that you are seen by the other driver, or you can see if they are distracted. If they are distracted you can make plans to stay out of their way. If a person in a car sees a bike on the road, they will look out for the bike while driving. Teaching a child to make eye contact with others on the road is a great way for them to stay safe and aware of their surroundings.
Visibility of Child While Riding
Another aspect of bicycle safety is prevention. One way to prevent your child from getting hit by an automobile is to make sure they are visible to other drivers. Bicyclists can be difficult to see from inside a vehicle. You want to do everything you can to make it as easy as possible to see your child.
There are a few ways to improve the visibility of your child.
- Avoid bike riding after dusk, when visibility is lower.
- Children should not wear dark colors while on a bicycle so that they do not blend in with any shadows on the road. Bright, neon colors should be worn to make the child more visible.
- If riding in the dark, it’s important to make sure your child’s bike has reflectors and that those reflectors are clean. Dirty reflectors will not do their job which is to reflect light back to anyone on the road. Reflecting material can be put on clothes, pedals, helmet, and even on the bike itself.
- A great way to make sure oncoming traffic sees your child on the road is to put a headlight on the front of their bike.
Putting these preventative tips into action can help drivers see your child and their bike, keeping your child safe.
Tips How to Safely Ride Your Bike
Part of learning to ride a bike is learning how to do so safely. There are some behaviors that children should not do in order to ride their bike safely.
- When riding a bike, children should leave the earbuds at home. They need to be able to hear cars, emergency vehicles, and their surrounding environment as they ride.
- Two hands should be kept on the handlebars at all times unless signalling to turn.
- Nothing should be held in their hands as they ride; all items should be kept in a backpack or bike basket.
- A hat should not be worn underneath their helmet. It makes the helmet less effective.
- Don’t let others sit on the back or on the handlebars. It increases the chance of getting into a bicycle accident.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for car doors opening, potholes, debris in the road, puddles, and anything else that could cause a crash.
- Never hitch your bike to a car. Doing so is extremely dangerous.
These guidelines will help your child stay safe as they ride and less likely to crash and get injured.
Children Need Adult Supervision
As the adult, it is your responsibility to ensure your child is being safe while on their bicycle. Keep your child away from riding their bike on busy streets where it’s more dangerous. Make sure they wear their helmet each and every time they get on their bike. Also, make sure their bike is kept in good repair, that the brakes are working well, and that the bike still fits your child. All these things are required of responsible parents. Doing these things will help prevent accidents and injuries to your child.
Along with keeping an eye on your child, it is important for you to make sure your child knows and follows all of the rules of the road. They need to know how to ride with traffic safely. For example, children should know to ride with the flow of traffic instead of against it. They need to know how to follow traffic laws. It is your job to teach your child how to protect themselves while they are riding a bicycle.
When to Call a Personal Injury Attorney
Even after all safety precautions have been made, accidents sometimes happen, and they cannot always be avoided. When an accident occurs, it’s time to take action. First, make sure you get medical attention for your injuries. Then it’s time to reach out to a personal injury attorney. They can help with insurance companies, insurance defense lawyers, hospitals, the legal system, doctors, and more.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, call Hutzler Law today to speak to a personal injury attorney. No matter what the circumstances of the accident are, we are here to help you. We can help you get the maximum compensation for your claim.