Bicycle Safety for Children and Teens
Bike riding is a hobby for millions of kids and teenagers across the United States. In addition to being fun, cycling is an excellent source of exercise, and many parents and doctors encourage such activity as part of living a healthy life. While bicycles serve many positive purposes, they also come with inherent dangers and risk. For starters, cyclists run the risk of getting hurt if they fall off the bike or crash into someone or something else. Without safety mechanisms in place, injured victims can suffer broken bones, road rash, or permanent scarring. In addition to causing physical pain, these conditions can force a child to miss school and extracurricular activities as part of the healing process.
Risks of Children and Bicycles
Of the millions of children and teenagers that ride bicycles each year, did you know that over 240,000 riders under the age of 19 are taken to the emergency room for bicycle-related injuries each year? This statistic is according to Safe Kids Worldwide, who also reports that more than 26,000 kids are treated for traumatic brain injuries related to bike riding each year. Males seem to have more risk than females, as their bike-related fatality rate is almost six times higher than for females.
Safety Tips to Prevent Bicycle Injuries
For children involved in a bicycle crash, if they are lucky, they will walk away with nothing more than some scrapes and bruises. However, many are not nearly that fortunate. Children injured on bicycles can suffer permanent injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. These conditions can negatively affect cognitive abilities, causing developmental issues. Further, they can cause behavioral issues, memory loss, and emotional distress.
What can be done to promote bicycle safety among our youth and prevent life-altering injuries from taking place? Fortunately, certain steps can be implemented by parents and kids alike.
- Purchase a bicycle that fits the rider. The bike should not be too big or too small. Younger children may need training wheels. The bicycle should come with reflectors and/or lights.
- At all times, riders should wear a helmet that fits.
- A helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 45%, brain injury by 33%, facial injury by 27%, and fatality by 29%.
- Look for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker on the helmet.
- The helmet should fit firmly and comfortably. It should also be strapped under the chin. More information on how a helmet should fit can be found here.
- Follow the rules of the road by obeying traffic signs and street lights, looking both ways before crossing the street, using designated crosswalks when crossing, and riding in bike lanes when possible.
- Wear clothing that fits. Clothing that is too loose can get caught in the handlebars, chains, or pedals of the bicycle.
- Wear proper riding gear, such as reflectors, neon clothing, or bright clothing. Otherwise, car or truck drivers may not notice the cyclist, and this could lead to an unfortunate accident. Reflective gear is particularly important while riding early in the morning or at night.
- Maintain the bicycle in good working order. Proper maintenance measures may include inflating the tires and making sure the chains and gears work properly.
More information on bicycle safety can be found here:
New York State Department of Transportation – Bicycle Safety
TeensHealth – Bike Injuries Are Common
SafeKids – Bike Safety for Pre-Teens