While bicycling is a milestone for many kids and great for outside play, children are still often at risk of being in a bicycle accident.
Many of today's adults grew up in an era where nobody wore helmets when bicycling. But research has shown the error of a generation's ways, as it's been proven that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the likelihood of serious injury by as much as 78 percent. In fact, wearing a helmet that fits your head properly is the best way to avoid any head injuries from biking.
Risk of injury high without helmets
In a single recent year -- 2014 -- 242,931 kids suffered non-fatal injuries as a result of bike-riding accidents.
Over 1.35 million kids per year visit the emergency room (ER) after suffering a sports-related injury, and most kids are seeking treatment for an accident involving a riding toy.
Safety breaches are expensive
To put this into perspective, every two minutes in the United States, a kid gets treated in the ER for a biking accident.
As one might imagine, the costs are high for bicycle injuries. Experts determined that if 85 percent of bike-riding kids wore helmets for just one year, the lifetime savings for medical bills would range from $109 to $142 million. Yet, 52 percent of kids 13 and under fail to don a bike helmet before they pedal off.
Don't win this door prize
Bike-riders of any age are at high risk of getting "doored" by oblivious drivers who unthinkingly open their car doors just as a cyclist approaches. The best way to avoid this is to ride more to the left when riding alongside a row of parked cars. Yes, this will put you closer to moving traffic, but at least they can see you.
Get your gear on
Kids might protest that it's not cool to wear helmets and reflective clothing while riding or to fit their bikes with lights and bells. But is the perception of "being cool" worth the risk of going through life in a wheelchair with mangled limbs?
Always err on the side of safety and insist that your children do as well. If they get injured in a collision with a motorist, as their parents, you will need to advocate for them legally in order to recover costs of treatment and other legal damages.