Keeping Children Safe on Bikes
Riding a bike is an enjoyable summer activity for the entire family. But if not done safely, serious injuries can result from this otherwise safe activity.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 630 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents across the United States in 2009. California alone experienced nearly 16 percent off all cycling fatalities.
Though that number is down from the 786 killed in 2005, it still represents nearly two percent of all traffic fatalities.
The NHTSA recommends that riders wear a helmet every time they get on a bike. This is the best way to prevent a serious head injury in the event of a fall or accident. California statutes require any person less than 18 years of age to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
Riders should also remember that they are considered vehicle operators and required to follow the rules of the road. Statistics from the NHTSA note that 70 percent of fatal cycling accidents occur at non-intersection locations in urban areas, making it important for riders and motorists to know and observe traffic laws.
Increasing visibility is another way to stay safe. Wearing clothes that are bright in color during the day, and those that are reflective at night, can help other drivers see you. Lights should also be used if riding at night, both in the front and rear of the bicycle.
It is also important to perform regular maintenance on your bike. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and the brakes and chain are all in good working order.
Younger riders are particularly at risk, with nearly 13 percent of all fatal bicycling accidents involving riders ages 16 and under. In addition to wearing helmets and following the rules of the road, The Automobile Club of Southern California recommends younger riders:
- Walk their bike across busy intersections
- Ride single file when in a group and never carry passengers
- Yield to pedestrians
- Take the safest route and avoid busy streets
- Stay alert for opening car doors
After an Accident
Due the disparity in size and lack of protection for the rider, accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles often result in serious injuries. If you or a family member has been involved in a traffic accident while riding, contact an attorney to discuss your situation.