Kids and Bike Safety-Frightening Statistics
Riding a bicycle is a common way for parents to bond with children and for them to explore the neighborhood while staying in shape. However, bicycles can be dangerous if used improperly. Approximately 500,000 American children suffer cuts and bruises in bike accidents every year. Most accidents do not involve serious wounds; skin abrasions, lacerations, and broken bones are among the more significant injuries that commonly occur as a result of bicycle accidents. Protecting one’s kids from harm requires parents to understand common injuries that may result and how best to avoid them.
Safer Riding Habits Make Safer Riders
Dangerous riding habits are a common source of injuries. No group is at a higher risk of harm on bicycles than boys aged 11 to 15. Additionally, a 1987 study of serious bicycle accidents in urban Brisbane over 10 years revealed that 87 percent of fatal accidents involved male victims. Risk-taking behavior is a primary source of the fatalities.
Unfortunately, preventing young teenagers from engaging in risk-taking behavior outside their parents’ presence is nigh impossible; boys will stop jumping bicycles, stunting and achieving high speeds when human nature changes. What parents can do to influence their boys’ riding habits is educate them to avoid needless risks in hazardous environments. Since 87 percent of fatal accidents involve a collision between a bicyclist and a motor vehicle, parents should advise their youngsters to stay well clear of vehicles and obey all traffic signs and signals.
The best way to reinforce good riding habits is to serve as a positive example to them. Merely relaying the information to one’s child is inadequate; the first time they are out with friends or in a hurry, that previously imparted wisdom will be forgotten. If possible, parents should teach them to ride at a young age and ride together. Young children will naturally emulate their parents and if the parent consistently reinforces good habits, the child will be more likely to practice safe riding.
The Importance of Protective Gear
Unfortunately, even safe and responsible bikers are not immune to mishaps. Motorists are so accustomed to looking for other four-wheeled vehicles that motorcycles and small children riding bikes are often invisible. When a motor vehicle strikes a bicyclist, they have little protection beyond what he or she is wearing. An Indiana personal injury attorney, Randy Sevenish states, “A bicyclist is more exposed on the roads than a motor vehicle driver, and the David-versus-Goliath nature of automobile-bike collisions typically leads to more unfortunate consequences for cyclists.” Therefore cyclists must be informed and protected.
Helmets are the single most important piece of protected equipment that a child can wear. Roughly 70 percent of fatal collisions involve head injuries, making head protection the top priority. Helmets will reduce the forces imparted onto the skull in the event of a crash or fall, thus reducing the incidence and severity of damage. Helmets should be snug, but comfortable and relatively lightweight. Heavy helmets are less comfortable and thus, the child is more likely to leave the helmet off while riding. In Indiana, it is not unlawful for young adolescents to ride bicycles without helmets, but they should still do so.
Children can wear additional gear for extra protection. Kneepads and elbow pads will help them avoid harming their extremities. Specifically, lacerations and broken bones are much less likely when wearing arm and leg protection. Additional protection is not required by law, but for the very young, it can be invaluable in preventing injuries.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
Immediately after a bicycle accident, parents should determine the extent of their child’s wounds. Not every skinned knee requires an ambulance ride to the emergency room, but some serious problems can seem minor. Fractured bones and deceptively deep lacerations can cause problems if ignored for an extended time and wounds can quickly become infected. If there is any doubt, parents should take their children to a medical center for examination.
After the child has been examined and the injuries have been determined, parents should consider the circumstances surrounding the accident. If another vehicle struck the child while they were in a place in which he or she was entitled to be or if the child was injured by a defective condition on someone’s land, the parent may have a legal right to recover damages. In such situations, the parents should consult with an attorney to discuss their options.
Ieda Vincent is a mother of two and remembers the fun and the stress of teaching them to safely ride a bike. She contributes this article as a reminder to all to be cautious when cruising the road on two wheels. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a bike accident, contact Indiana personal injury attorney, Randy Sevenish who has over twenty plus years fighting for the injured and the victimized. His firm has a sincere and honest concern for their clients and will not request a payment unless your case is a success.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kodomut/7075624175/