As summer approaches your kids may be spending more and more time outside. For many kids, bicycling is a common outdoor pastime. However, bicycling presents several potential hazards to children, especially when they are bicycling near motor vehicle traffic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents make up one-third of bicycle injuries treated in emergency rooms in the United States, and many of those injuries were caused by collisions with motor vehicles. However, by teaching and enforcing safe biking habits you can reduce your child’s risk of being hit by a car while biking.
Begin with the basics
The most basic measure to keep your child safe is ensuring he or she always wears a helmet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards. The helmet should also be sized appropriately for your child. You can use helmet sizing pads if your child’s helmet is too big to fit properly.
However, you should avoid buying your child a bicycle that he or she must grow into. If your child’s bike is too big, it will be more difficult for your child to control. Similarly, you should avoid pushing your child to ride without training wheels if he or she is not comfortable because a lack of coordination can contribute to an accident.
You can also help your child stay safe by encouraging him or her to dress appropriately for a bike ride. Bright clothing can help kids be more visible to drivers. Tying shoe laces and tucking in pant legs can help prevent them from getting caught on anything while biking.
Avoid high-risk situations
Many bicyclist injuries and fatalities caused by collisions with motor vehicles occur at areas other than intersections, in urban areas or when it is dark outside. While high-risk situations may not always be able to be avoided, you can help your child be as safe as possible.
Children should never be allowed to bike after dark. However, you can make sure your child’s bike has reflectors, just in case.
Teaching your child to be predictable to drivers is another way to help avoid risky situations. Your child should learn to obey all traffic control devices and use hand signals when biking. When your child must bike on the road, he or she should bike on the right side of the road, facing the same way motor vehicles face.
Dangerous situations can also be prevented if your child avoids multitasking while biking. Distractions, like texting, can take your child’s eyes off the road causing him or her not to see potential hazards like pebbles, potholes or even cars. Listening to music can also prevent your child from noticing potential hazards and should be avoided while biking.
There are actions you can take to reduce your child’s chance of being hit by a car. However, drivers have a responsibility to behave safely when sharing the road. If your child has been struck by a motor vehicle while bicycling, it may be appropriate to seek justice. You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with the injury.