Keeping Teens and Preteens Safe on Bicycles
Safe Riding Habits for Young Bicyclists
Nearly 800 bicyclists are killed and 40,000 are injured in collisions with cars every year across the country. Sadly, far too many of these victims are under the age of 19. When you send your teen or preteen out the door on his bicycle, you are sending him into a crowd of careless drivers who are not looking out for bicycles. Make sure your teen knows the rules of the road and takes steps to be as safe as possible
Common-Sense Rules for Safe Riding
Unlike younger children who ride their bikes in neighborhoods and through parks, teens and tweens are much more likely to be riding bikes in traffic to get to a specific destination. Whether navigating roadways to get to school, practice, a part-time job, or a friend’s house, these riders must follow the same rules of the road that motorists follow, but many of them don’t even know the rules.
Before allowing your teen to ride his bike on city streets, be sure he is aware of basic traffic laws. Both you and your teen should also be aware of the following safety guidelines:
- Ride a bike that fits. All parents hate to have to keep buying things to fit growing kids. Whether shoes or bicycles, parents tend to buy things a little big so the kid can grow into them. However, it is essential for safety that a teen’s bike is not too big for him. He should be able to put a foot flat on the ground while sitting on the seat. Otherwise, he will not be able to control the bike when stopping or maneuvering around an obstacle.
- Ride a bike that works. Even more than hand-me-down coats, bikes tend to be kept and passed along year after year. Make sure your teen’s bike has good brakes, smooth gear shifters, a seat that doesn’t swivel, and solid tires that are adequately inflated. Just like a car, a bicycle must be able to stop on a dime if necessary.
- Wear a helmet. This must be non-negotiable, and it won’t be easy with teenagers. You can help by modeling good habits by always wearing a helmet yourself and explaining that a football or hockey player would never refuse to wear a helmet. It may not be cool, but it is the single most important habit a teen bicyclist should have.
- Be visible. Most car-bike collisions happen because a motorist doesn’t see a bike sharing the lane or crossing at a crosswalk. A headlight is a must if your teen is driving in the dark or dusk. Reflective strips on helmets, pedals, and clothing are also vital for safety.
- Know where you’re going. Make sure your teen has planned his route to his destination and that it is the safest route possible. Go over a map with him and point out traffic signals, street crossings, and other danger zones before he heads out.
- Put the cellphone away. Teens have a hard time being away from their phones for even a few minutes, but make sure your teen understands that texting while riding his bike could lead to him being seriously injured or killed. Like the helmet, this should be non-negotiable.
If Your Teen Is Hit, You Need Help
You never want to get that call that your teen has been hurt in a bicycle accident, but, if it happens, you will need the help of an experienced bicycle accident attorney to get the maximum compensation for your child’s injuries. William Enoch Andrews will make sure that your child gets all the medical care he needs first, then discuss how he can help you with your case.