May is Bike Safety Month, according to a safety pamphlet from the Active Living Resource Center, and the dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP want to help parents and their children to avoid life-threatening bicycle accidents.
Because many parents on Long Island allow their children to ride their bicycles at least a short distance away from home, it is important to understand certain injury risks and to take preventive measures. For instance, is your child’s bike actually the right size for him or her? Should your child be riding a bicycle with hand or pedal brakes? Is one type of brake more reliable than the other for kids in certain age groups? Is your child old enough to ride a bike by himself or herself?
If you have children who ride bicycles, these are questions that you might have asked yourself. You should learn the answers to these questions and more in determining the best way to keep your kids safe while they enjoy the warmer spring and summer months outside. In the event that your child is injured in a bicycle accident, an experienced Long Island bicycle accident lawyer can discuss your options with you for filing a claim for financial compensation.
Child Injuries and Bike Accident Statistics
According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than half of all bicyclists in the United States wear helmets on a regular basis. What else do you need to know about child bike accident statistics? Both the CDC fact sheet and a fact sheet from the Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation provide some of the following facts and figures, which help to highlight the need for bicycle accident prevention, particularly among children:
- Only 48 percent of kids between the ages of 5 and 14 wore helmets while riding their bikes. Those numbers dropped even more for teens over the age of 14.
- 800 bicyclists suffered fatal injuries in a single recent year, and another approximately 515,000 people suffered personal injuries in bicycle accidents that required treatment in an emergency department.
- Of those killed and seriously injured in bicycle accidents, about 50 percent are children and teens aged 19 and younger.
- More than 10,000 children are hospitalized each year in the United States with a bicycle-related injury, and they remain in the hospital for an average of three days.
- Approximately 26,000 bicycle-related injuries sustained by kids aged 19 and under are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which require emergency department treatment.
- Helmets decrease the risk of sustaining a brain injury by 88 percent.
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Brain Injury and Bike Safety
Brain injuries happen much too often when children do not wear helmets while riding bicycles. The CDC fact sheet emphasizes the importance of wearing helmets and underscores that a properly fitted helmet is one of the best ways to prevent a traumatic brain injury or another form of head trauma.
While some kids might think wearing a bike helmet is not “cool” or fashionable, parents need to make sure that their children wear a helmet whenever they ride a bike. In short, wearing a helmet drastically reduces the risk of a life-threatening or deadly bike accident. As the CDC’s fact sheet explains, “some children don’t like to wear helmets because they fear they will be teased by peers for being ‘geeky’ or because they think helmets are unattractive, uncomfortable, or hot.”
By ensuring that your kids know the risks of failing to wear a bicycle helmet — and ensuring that you have purchased a helmet that fits properly and is comfortable — you can help to convince your children of their necessity.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Kids
What do you need to know to keep your children safe while they are riding their bicycles? While some safety tips can vary depending upon the age of the child, there are several organizations that offer valuable bicycle safety tips for kids aged 19 and under. According to a fact sheet from Safe Kids Worldwide and a fact sheet from KidsHealth.org, the following safety tips can help younger children and teens alike to avoid serious bike accidents and injuries:
- Always wear a helmet: Your child’s helmet should fit properly, and she or he should wear it on every bike ride. It is also important to ensure that your child’s helmet meets the standards set forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Keep in mind that if you wear a helmet, too, you will set a good example for your kids. And you should let your child decide what helmet she or he wants. Letting your kid pick the helmet can help to ensure that she or he will wear it. Helmets should be snug, but they should not feel too tight. It is also important to note that helmets should not be worn over a baseball cap or another hat or bandana, which could cause the helmet to shift if your child is in an accident.
- Make sure your child’s bike fits his or her size: When it comes to children and bicycles, one size simply does not fit all. You should take your child with you when shopping for a bicycle, and your child’s bike should fit her current size. In other words, your kids should never “grow into” their bicycles. How can you determine if the bike fits? When your child is sitting on the bicycle, he or she should be able to just barely extend his or her legs fully to reach the pedals when they are in their lowest position.
- Use proper safety gear: Ensure that your child’s bike has proper reflectors and lights attached. Your child should also wear retro-reflective clothing at night or fluorescent clothing during the day in order to be seen by automobile drivers.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
If you or your child recently sustained injuries in a bicycle accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once your child has been evaluated by a healthcare professional, it is important to speak with an experienced Long Island bicycle accident attorney about your case. If the accident resulted from another party’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim for financial compensation.
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How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Was your kid involved in a bike accident? A dedicated Long Island personal injury lawyer can help with your case. Contact Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today for more information about our services in New York.