According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 236,000 children were injured in bicycle accidents in 2007. Many of these injuries involved brain injuries. In fact, brain injuries were the leading cause of death from bicycle accidents. In many cases, these brain injuries would not have occurred if the child was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are many things that parents can do to keep their children safe on bicycles:
1) Choose your child’s routes carefully. If your child is ten years of age or younger, have your child only bicycle on bike paths or on sidewalks. Do not permit you child to bicycle on the road or the streets, as this can be dangerous. Teens can choose to bicycle in streets, as long as the have learned the rules of the road and bicycle with traffic rather than against it. Do not allow your children to bicycle at night, when visibility is poor and bicycle accidents are more likely.
2) Have your child wear a helmet each and every time that they get on their bicycle. Allow you child to select a helmet that he or she likes, and ensure that he or she wears it correctly each time. Helmets are one of the best ways to prevent serious brain injuries and other bicycling injuries.
3) Teach your children good bicycling habits. Show your children how to use the correct hand signals and encourage them to use the hand signals so that drivers know when they are turning. Teach your children to come to a complete halt before driving across a pass, sidewalk, or driveway. Teach your children to walk bicycles across streets, and only very carefully.
4) Bicycle with their children so that you can notice any potential bad habits. If your child is not seem to know the rules of the road or the rules of bicycling, make sure that you teach them. Do not allow your children to bicycle alone or with friends until these basic rules have been mastered.
5) Look for safe bicycling classes in your community. Some police stations and firefighters offer these classes for free to children. These classes teach about the importance of helmets, proper bicycling habits, and traffic rules. There are an excellent way to reinforce the importance of bicycling safety for your children.
6) Lobby for more walking and biking trails in your area. Bicycle and hiking trails are much better alternative to streets for children who are interested in bicycling, because these areas do not require the child to share the road with vehicles. Write to your local mayor or congressperson to ask for more bicycling routes and dedicated walking areas.