From the little tikes enjoying their first bikes with training wheels, to the teens with the newest and coolest models, bicycles provide not only fun and fitness but also give children a sense of independence. However, bicycles are not just another toy; bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2001, children 15 years and under accounted for 59% of all bicycle-related injuries in US emergency departments. Learn the rules of the road to help your kids ride safely this summer.
Almost every child who has ridden a bicycle has experienced a scraped knee or elbow or even a tumble. But, many kids experience more severe injuries that require emergency medical treatment, such as head injuries, broken bones or deep cuts. Teaching your children bicycle safety tips can help prevent both minor and major injuries. Consider these findings:
According to the US National SAFE KIDS Campaign, 134 children ages 14 and under died in bicycle-related crashes in 2001.
In 2002, 288,900 kids were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.
Head injury is the leading cause of death in bicycle crashes. It is estimated that helmet use among child bicyclists ranges from 15 to 25%.
Truestar’s rules of the road
Before your kids leave the driveway, take the time to teach them the safety rules of the road.
1. Be head smart: A helmet can protect your head in case you fall off your bike or are hit by a motor vehicle. According to the US National SAFE KIDS Campaign, a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%. Be sure to buy a helmet that meets or exceeds current safety standards developed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If your kids don’t think helmets are cool, try decorating them with brightly colored stickers or let them go to the store and pick out the one they want (make sure the helmet fits properly). Talk to other parents to encourage them to have their kids wear helmets, and you should wear a helmet too.
2. Location, location, location: Parents should set limits on where children ride, depending on age and maturity. Vehicle collisions account for nearly 90% of all bicycle-related deaths. Bike riders should be off the streets and on sidewalks and paths until they are about 10 years old and can show they know the rules of the road. Supervision is important until children have the maturity and judgment necessary for safe riding.
3. Bike safety: Make sure your child’s bike has a light and reflectors on the front, back and sides. Inspect the bike annually to ensure everything is in good condition—make sure the brakes work well and the tires are properly inflated. Also, make sure the bike is still the right size for your growing child. Any bike store can help you make adjustments to the bike.
4. What to wear: Have your child wear fluorescent-colored clothing, which can help people see them better. Make sure their clothes are lightweight to reduce the chance of becoming overheated and make sure they bring water when biking on hot summer days. See Summer Health Hazards Part 2: Sunstroke. Also, it is best that they wear shoes that grip the bike pedals.
5. Follow the rules of the road: The most important way to protect your kids is to teach them basic safety tips. Teach them to ride with traffic, to stop and look both ways before entering the street, to stop at all intersections and before turning and to use hand signals and look all ways. They should not ride after dark, as statistics show that children are four times more likely to be injured in low light than daylight. They should always call home for a ride if it is dark outside.
Visit Truestar Kids for more information on healthy meal plans, exercise tips and supplements to keep your kids healthy and fit this summer.