Every year, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. According to the CDC, 12,000 kids and teens ages 19 and under die from unintentional injuries caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, and road traffic. An additional 9.2 million visit emergency rooms for nonfatal injuries.
As America grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have come to realize that safety isn’t all that simple. There’s no question that the shelter in place and stay at home orders adopted by cities, counties, and states across the country have protected our health, but they inevitably impact our mental health and even our physical safety, with all the time our children are spending inside.
I’ve written before about the safety risks for kids that have accompanied social distancing. Parents are juggling an almost unimaginable number of responsibilities, wearing an unimaginable number of metaphorical hats. There’s only so much any of us can do at one time. It’s virtually impossible to work from home and watch our kids—who would ordinarily be outside and supervised for all of the workday—24/7. This is not a time where balance comes easily.
There are numerous safety hazards in the home and backyard, from dangerous toys to pools and trampolines. With those warm summer days almost upon us, it’s important to have a conversation with your kids about bike safety, if you haven’t already.
Safety Behind the Handlebars
There’s nothing quite like learning how to ride a bike. In fact, going for a ride on a breezy summer day instantly transports many adults back to our childhoods. It’s not just enjoyable, it’s good for our health. And in this era of social distancing, as our kids’ schedules have become increasingly unstructured, it’s so important that they have regular outlets for excess energy.
But as with so many of life’s greatest pleasures, a bike ride can quickly become dangerous—sometimes even fatal. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 857 cyclists died from collisions in 2018. Childhood health experts report an increase in bike accidents since stay at home orders went into effect earlier this spring. It’s vital that our kids understand the risks and that they practice basic safety and awareness. Below are my top tips, based on my decades of experience as a Memphis personal injury lawyer.
Top Tips for Kids Biking Safety
Helmets are anything but optional.
The best way to prevent head injury and death from a cycling accident is by wearing a helmet, which reduces the risk by 85%. But not just any helmet—for actual protection, your child must wear one that properly fits. If the helmet rocks forward, backward, or side to side, be sure to find the right size before going on a ride.
Quick Tip: If your child doesn’t seem particularly excited about putting a helmet on, let them pick one in their favorite color.
The bike has to be the right size, too.
It might be acceptable to buy your children clothes that he or she will grow into, but it’s different when shopping for a bike. Only buy one that’s the right size. If you’re unsure, a quick test is whether or not your kid’s feet touch the ground while seated.
Even after you buy a properly sized bike, it’s important to ensure that it’s in good condition, with working brakes and gears, properly inflated tires, and secure reflectors.
Supervision is key.
I know this might be challenging during our current moment, when parents are already stretched to capacity, but our young cyclists need supervision until they have internalized a good sense of judgment. Limit their biking to sidewalks and paths until they are older and aware of basic traffic rules.
Riding is a daytime activity.
Young kids should not ride in low-visibility conditions, including nighttime or fog. Even when they are older, reflective clothing and other safety gear, including proper lighting, are musts.
Need to contact a Memphis personal injury lawyer?
If you or your child has been injured while riding a bike, you could be entitled to compensation. The best way to find out if you have a case is by contacting an experienced Memphis personal injury lawyer. We can help you figure out your options, at no cost.