Summer vacation means more kids on bikes. And more adults cycling to work or riding for pleasure. The down side of all that biking activity is an increase in injuries or deaths.
Read about some ways to keep yourself and your children safe during bike accident season.
Bike injuries and fatalities increase in summer
Florida has the highest number of bicycle fatalities in the United States (about 130 each year). Bike deaths account for 5 percent of all Florida traffic deaths, which is also far higher than the national average.
And now we are entering peak season for bicycle accidents:
- More than half of all bike fatalities occur in June through September.
- About 100,000 children under the age of 14 suffer non-fatal injuries on bikes each year.
Of bike accidents resulting in emergency room visits, head injuries account for 67 percent of hospital admissions and 60 percent of fatalities. Other common injuries are broken legs, wrist fractures, back and neck injuries, lacerations and “road rash” abrasions.
Helmets are mandatory for kids – and they save lives
Florida law requires all children under the age of 16 to wear a bike helmet. Unfortunately, many kids (and adult riders) do not. Insisting on helmet use is the single biggest thing you can do to keep children safe.
Failure to wear a helmet earns a warning on the first offense and a $15 fine the second time. But the real price of not wearing a helmet is the potential for brain injury or death in a collision with a car. Wearing a helmet does not guarantee a bike rider will survive, but it greatly increases the odds. On average, about 60 percent of people killed on bikes were not wearing a helmet, compared to 16 percent who died despite using a helmet.
More bike safety tips for kids this summer
- Cross the road at an intersection – The majority of fatal bicycle crashes occur on major roads but away from marked intersections. Crossing mid-block is dangerous.
- Stop and look both ways before crossing – This sounds obvious to us adults, but studies show that children have less awareness to danger and are not good at judging the speed of oncoming cars. Model safe behavior and practice crossing the road with your children.
- Ride together – Children assume that if they can see the driver the driver can see them, which is not always the case. A group of bicyclists has a better chance of being noticed than a single rider.
- Use reflectors and lights – The peak time for bicycle accidents is 6 to 9 p.m. The 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight slots are also quite dangerous. Bikes should have reflectors on the rear, on the front, and on the wheels. Even better are flashing lights on the front and rear of the bike, and flashing lights on helmets, to increase the likelihood of being seen.
Please be safe this summer!
Source: National Safety Council, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety