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As Florida Summer Beckons, It’s Time to Beef Up on Bicycle Safety

Spring in Florida brings with it clear skies and warm days. Just around the corner, summer, with its days of ice cream and long nights is waiting. That means that both motorists and parents need to be alert to the fact that in a few short weeks children will be bicycling, skateboarding and skating on Florida’s streets, often only a few feet or inches from fast-moving vehicles.

Children with bicycles can be a cause of worry for parents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 750 bicyclists were killed annually between 1995 and 2000. According to The Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report, 2,143 children died in the summer months (May 1st to August 31st) in 2004 due to largely preventable injuries. This averages out to about 17 children a day.

When it comes to summer injuries, bicycles are a big factor. According to The Safe Kids U.S. Summer Safety Ranking Report, preventable injuries to children spike seriously in the summer. Bicycle injuries can lead to paralysis, brain damage, spinal cord injury, and other serious disabilities. Worse, the report finds that bicycle accidents are the second most common cause of childhood death and injury during the summer months. In fact, childhood injuries and deaths related to bicycling increase 45% in the summer over the annual monthly average during the rest of the year.

Based on the findings of this report, Safe Kids Worldwide has suggested that parents take some precautions when school lets out. Parents can reduce the possibility of bicycle injuries by:

*Supervising. Parental or adult supervision can reduce childhood bicycle accidents and can ensure that quick help is available in case an accident does take place.

*Setting boundaries. Children who play in their own backyards are close to help in case they need it. Plus, Florida has many biking and hiking trails that can take young bicyclists off the roads and away from motorists.

*Choosing the right helmet. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a properly-fitted helmet has cut the risk of brain injury by up to 88 percent. If you are not sure what sort of helmet is right for your child, speak to a professional.

*Staying aware of unsafe products. Product recalls and reports of defective products are common today. Make sure that your child is not riding a bike that has been reported unsafe and is not wearing a helmet that has been recalled.

*Teaching children the rules of the road. Make sure that your children know how to ride bicycles safely.