Most kids and younger teens enjoy riding bicycles. However, according to the NHTSA, children under the age of 10 are not mature enough to observe road safety rules.
That’s why the agency recommends that kids below 10 stay off the public roads and instead ride only on sidewalks to reduce the risk of getting involved in an accident.
But sticking to sidewalks doesn’t necessarily mean that your 10-year-old child will always ride safely. You have to be proactive at teaching and reminding them the dos and don’ts of riding on the street to ensure they get home safely after a bike ride.
Most Common Causes of Bike Accidents
Bicycle accidents occur for several reasons, including collisions with other vehicles, poor road conditions, poor visibility, distractions, and failure to follow traffic rules. Other causes may include riding the wrong bicycle size, car doors opened in front of a rider, and riding into objects such as road barriers.
After a bicycle accident, liability can fall on various parties, depending on the circumstances of each case. In most cases, possible liable parties in a bicycle accident include the bicycle rider, motorists, or the local government if a poorly maintained road is the cause of the accident.
If your child has been involved in a bicycle accident resulting from the negligent actions of another person, talking to a bicycle accident attorney can help you understand your legal options.
Tips for Kids Safety While Riding a Bicycle
Get Them the Right Gear
The most prevalent cause of death in bicycle accidents is injuries to the head. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your child’s head is always protected by a helmet when riding a bicycle on the street or sidewalk.
But not just any helmet. It has to be the right fit and should never be worn over a cap or a hat.
Besides the helmet, you will need to have the right clothes and footwear. For example, you may want to avoid loose clothing that could get entangled in the wheels and cause an accident. Also, ensure that they wear closed-toe shoes and never allow them to ride barefoot or in flip-flops.
Ensure the Bicycle Is Safe For the Child
Bicycles come in different sizes. The right size bike should allow a two to three inches distance between a child and the top bar when standing with their legs across the bar and with both feet flat on the ground.
Also, you have to ensure the seat is adjusted correctly. Ideally, it should be on the same level as the handlebars.
Besides the height, the bicycle has to be safe for riding. In other words, you have to constantly check for faults, such as deflated tires, failing brakes, and loose joints.
Remind Them to Follow Traffic Rules
A bicycle is a vehicle like any other. Therefore, always remind your kids to abide by the same rules as other drivers, including riding on the right side of the road, stopping at a red light and stop signs, signaling turns, etc., especially when riding on public roads.
You should also encourage them to observe other non-mandatory bicycle-specific rules meant to enhance safety. These include wearing reflective or bright-colored clothes for increased visibility and using the headlights when riding in the dark.
Remind Them to Ride Cautiously Near Parked Cars and Restrict Night riding
Parked cars are a hazard and should be approached cautiously. That’s why you need to constantly remind your kids to maintain a safe distance between themselves and parked cars to avoid the risk of someone opening the door on them.
Also, never allow your children to ride on the streets at night. According to the NHTSA, most bicycle accidents occur between 6 and 9 pm, so you may want to set boundaries on the hours they can be out riding.