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Ten Tips For Safe Bike Riding

Pediatric Safety Basics

By

Updated May 12, 2004

Bicycle riding is a fun and popular activity among kids. And with more and more kids becoming overweight, encouraging kids to be more active and ride their bikes regularly can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Unfortunately, bicycle riding can also lead to kids getting injured or even dying, especially when they don't wear a helmet. According to the CDC, 'more than 500,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms or doctors' offices due to bicycle injuries' each year.

Although it is a simple way to avoid getting hurt, far too many kids don't wear a helmet when riding their bike. In fact, one survey by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign found that 'only 41 percent of all children observed on bicycles, inline skates, skateboards and scooters wear helmets' and that '35 percent of all children observed wearing helmets wear them improperly', either because the chin strap was unattached, loose, or the helmet was tilted. In our own Bicycle Helmet Poll, only about half of children 'always' wear a helmet.

In addition to setting a good example and always wearing a helmet yourself, here are ten tips to teach your children to encourage safe bike riding:

  1. Always wear a bike helmet
  2. Stop and check traffic before riding into a street
  3. Don't ride at night
  4. Obey traffic signs and signals
  5. Ride on the right-hand side of the street
  6. Check your brakes before riding.
  7. Give cars and pedestrians the right-of-way
  8. Wear light or bright-colored clothing so that motorists can see you
  9. Be extra careful turning left - motorists don't expect it
  10. Avoid broken pavement, loose gravel and leaves - which can cause you to lose control of your bike.

But remember that simply wearing a helmet is not enough. Your child has to wear it correctly for it to keep him safe. You should choose a bike helmet that meets current safety standards. Other tips to help you select and correctly use a bike helmet include that you should:

  • Start children wearing helmets with their first tricycles or play vehicles.
  • Use foam pads inside to fit the helmet snugly so it doesn't move on the head.
  • Fit the helmet so the front is just above the top of the eyebrows.
  • Teach your child to wear a helmet so that it covers the upper part of the forehead and sits level on the head.
  • Adjust the two side straps so they meet in a "V" right under each ear.
  • Adjust the chin strap snugly under the chin.
  • Make it tight enough so the helmet pulls down when the child opens his mouth.
  • Check often to make sure straps stay snug and the helmet stays level on the head.

portions of this article were reproduced from the CDC and NHTSA

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Bicycle Helmets for Children
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