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Bicycle Safety

Sep 19, 2012 12:18PM ● Published by Anonymous

Teach Your Kids Bicycle Safety

Setting a good example is the best way to start

More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to biking than any other sport. Take steps early on to teach your child some simple basics to help assure that he or she doesn’t become a statistic.

Before riding:

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet on every ride.
  • Properly fit your child’s helmet and ensure he always wears it when riding, skating or scooting.
  • Inspect bicycles, scooters and skateboards to ensure that reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
During riding:
  • Actively supervise children.
  • Don't let them ride bikes, skateboard or scooters in and around cars.
  • Practice bike safety: learn the rules of the road, wear reflective clothes and stickers, and ride on sidewalks when possible.
After riding:
  • Maintain equipment properly.
Proper equipment fit and maintenance are also important for safety.
  • Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike. Buy a bicycle that is the right size for the child, not one he will grow into. When sitting on the seat, the child’s feet should be able to touch the ground.
  • Make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
Always model and teach proper behavior. Learn the rules of the road, and obey all traffic laws.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against. Stay as far to the right as possible.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stop lights.
  • Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street or crossing an intersection. Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left.
Adult supervision of child cyclists is essential until you are sure a child has good traffic skills and judgment.
  • Cycling should be restricted to off-roads (e.g. sidewalks and paths) until age 10.
  • Children should be able to demonstrate riding competence and knowledge of the rules of the road before cycling with traffic.
Children should not ride a bicycle when it’s dark, in the fog, or in other low-visibility conditions.
  • If riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening is unavoidable, use a light on the bike and make sure it has reflectors as well.
  • Wear clothes and accessories that have retro reflective materials to improve biker visibility to motorists.
Helmet fit is important.
  • Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly.A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled but not too tightly.
Try the Eyes, Ears and Mouth Test:
  • EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
  • EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
  • MOUTH check:  Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
  • On average since 2001, children ages 14 and under have sustained more than 254,000 nonfatal cycle-related injuries each year.
  • In 2009, 229,811 children were treated in emergency departments for cycle-related injuries.
  • On average, nearly 630 children are injured daily due to cycle-related crashes.
  • In 2009, approximately 47,000 nonfatal injuries among child cyclists were traffic-related.
  • More children ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to biking than any other sport.
  • Each month, three out of four children in the US ride a bicycle.
  • Approximately 45 percent of children always wear a helmet while bicycling.
  • Apart from the automobile, bicycles are tied to more childhood injuries than any other consumer product.
  • Non-motorized scooters cause the most injuries of any toy among children ages 14 and under. In 2009, non-motorized scooters were associated with 49,500 injuries among children ages 14 and under.
  • In 2009, among children ages 14 and under there are approximately 69,000 injuries involving skateboards, more than 8,000 involving in-line skates, almost 41,000 involving other skates, and more than 247,000 injuries involving bicycles and their accessories.
  • A child who rides with companions wearing helmets or adults in general is more likely to wear a helmet himself.
  • Compared to older children, younger children are more likely to wear helmets.
Where, When and How
  • In 2009, 91 percent of bicyclists (of all ages) killed were not wearing a helmet.
  • Children with bicycle-related head injuries are more likely to require hospitalization and to have their injuries result in death.
  • For children ages 5 to 9, the sports and recreation activity most commonly associated with emergency department visits for nonfatal traumatic brain injury is bicycling. For children ages 4 and under, bicycling is the second leading sports and recreation activity associated with emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury.
  • Of child bicyclists (16 years and under) killed on the road, 49 percent are killed while bicycling on minor roads (connecting roads and neighborhood streets) and almost 49 percent are killed while bicycling on major roads (high-volume roads across cities and towns).
  • Almost half of bicycle crashes occur in driveways or on sidewalks.
For motor vehicle-related bicycle crashes among children:
  • A majority (75 percent) of injuries occur during the warm-weather months of April through September.
  • Approximately 60 percent of deaths among children (15 and under) occur at non-intersection locations.
  • On weekdays, 43 percent of deaths and 52 percent of injuries occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. On weekends, almost 45 percent of deaths occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.
  • Among children ages 14 and under, males accounted for more than 70 percent of bicycle-related nonfatal injuries in 2009.
  • Among children, boys ages 10 through 14 have the highest rate of bicycle-related injury.
  • While older children are more likely to have fractures and injuries to the upper and lower extremities of the body, children under age 5 tend to have more facial injuries and lacerations.
Proven Interventions
  • Helmet use is the single most effective way to reduce bicycle-related fatalities.
  • Universal bike helmet use among children ages 14 and under would prevent an estimated 212 to 294 deaths and 382,000 to 529,000 injuries each year.
  • Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent between 135 and 155 deaths, between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries, as well as 18,000 and 55,000 scalp and face injuries each year.
  • A recent analysis of several helmet studies found that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by at least 45 percent, brain injury by 33 percent, facial injury by 27 percent and fatal injury by 29 percent. One study suggests that helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and severe brain injury by 88 percent.
  • Various studies show that bicycle helmet legislation is effective in increasing bicycle helmet use and reducing bicycle-related death and injury among children covered under the law.
  • One study showed that within five years of passage of a state mandatory bicycle helmet law for children ages 13 and under, bicycle-related fatalities decreased by 60 percent. Police enforcement, supplemented by helmet giveaways and education, can increase the effectiveness of these laws.
  • Bicyclists can increase their visibility by wearing brightly colored or fluorescent clothing while riding. In addition, front and rear lights can improve cyclist visibility while riding at night.
  • Among bicyclists, skateboarders and scooter riders, wrist guards can reduce wrist injuries by up to 87 percent, elbow pads can reduce elbow injuries by 82 percent, and knee pads can reduce the number of knee injuries by 32 percent.

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