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The good news is that the number of children killed riding bicycles has dropped significantly nationwide from 256 deaths in 1999 to 112 deaths in 2010. The bad news is that more than 289,000 children in the United States are still treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries.
Even though Florida and 20 other states have laws requiring children to wear helmets, recent studies have concluded that more than half of all young bicyclists don’t always wear helmets. Helmets can reduce the chances of head injury by 85 percent and severe brain injury by 88 percent.
Here are some bicycle safety tips from Safe Kids Worldwide to consider:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Check that the helmet fits. That means it should sit on top of the head in a level position and the straps must be buckled. The child should be able to look up and see the bottom rim of the helmet. The straps should form a “V” under the child’s ears. The straps should hug the child’s head.
- Make sure the bicycle is the right size for the child. The child should be able to sit on the seat and have both feet touch the ground.
- Make sure the child is not wearing long or loose clothing to avoid getting tangled up in the bicycle.
- Check that reflectors are secure, brakes work, gears shift smoothly and tires are inflated.
- When riding at dusk or dawn, make sure the child can be seen on the bicycle with reflectors or clothing and accessories that have retro-reflective material.
- Tell your children to ride with traffic and not against it. Teach them proper hand signals and to obey all traffic signs.
- Children under 10 years old should generally be limited to riding on sidewalks, parks and bike paths.