Bikes, Crashes, and Injury Facts

Approximately 400,000 emergency room visits each year are for children involved in bicycle accidents. Children aged 5-14 are more likely to be involved in a bike crash and to have injuries to the arms and legs. While teenagers aged 15-18 are less likely to be in a bicycle accident, if they are, their risk of being killed is four-fold that of younger children. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, injuries related to bikes and crashes are often preventable and unnecessary.

Safety Tips for Parents of Young Bicyclists

1. Buy the right size bicycle. Many accidents are due to a small child trying to ride a bike that is too large for them. Most child bicycles come with adjustable handlebars and seats.
2. Wear a helmet. The use of a properly-fitted helmet is the most effective way to prevent a serious injury. Ninety percent of those killed in bicycle crashes were not wearing a helmet. Reinforce the idea that "it's cool to be covered" to teenagers who may want to to skip the helmet.
3. Enroll your child in a bicycle safety course. These are usually free events hosted by police or firefighters in the community. They will learn how to use hand signals, follow traffic signs, and where they can ride safely.
4. Protective padding. Wearing elbow and knee pads can be helpful for preventing cuts, scrapes, and bruises in young bicyclists who are learning to ride. Consider having children wear clothing that covers commonly injured areas when they ride their bike, as even a thin layer of clothing can lessen a scrape if they fall.
5. Carry identification. Your child should always have identification in case of an accident when they are away from home. It should include their name, an emergency contact person, address, and phone number. You can also add a label to the bicycle frame and helmet with the information.

The experience of riding a bicycle is one that every child should have. By implementing a few safety measures, your child can decrease their risk and increase their enjoyment.