When you’re looking for a new bike for your kids, there is one piece of information that should be more important to you than any other: the safety of the bicycle. Read our best bike for teens review here.
Of course, all kids want their bikes to look cool as they speed down the road, but as a parent, your child’s safety is the No. 1 priority.
Is buying a bike with good reviews the only way to look out for your child’s safety while riding? Of course not!
There are specific steps you can take that will help protect your young rider. Let’s take a look at bike-riding statistics to learn more.
The Importance of Bike Safety
Riding a bike is a whole lot of fun for kids, and it’s also an effective mode of transportation that will deliver them to school, the playground, the library and more. However, there is a certain amount of risk involved in riding a bike, as the following injury stats show.
- In 2015, 467,000 people in the United States were injured because of an activity involving a bicycle. This figure includes both children and adults.
- Each year, about 300,000 children visit the emergency room because of bicycle injuries.
- Approximately 10,000 kids are admitted to the hospital after bike accidents every year.
- In 2015, 818 people–both children and adults–were killed in bicycle accidents.
- More boys than girls are involved in cycling fatalities. For example, in 2014, males accounted for 88 percent of bicycle deaths in youths age 19 and under.
The Difference That Helmets Can Make
The very best thing that you can do to reduce the risk of bicycle injuries is to encourage helmet use.
- Head injuries are at least 45 percent less likely to happen when a rider wears a helmet.
- The risk of suffering a brain injury can go down by 33 percent when a child wears a helmet.
- Helmets reduce the risk of injury to the face by 27 percent.
- Bicycle fatalities are 29 percent less likely to occur if riders wear helmets.
The Hard Truths About Helmet Use
Unfortunately, helmets aren’t used as often as they should be, especially among older children.
- In 2003, only 48 percent of kids under age 14 rode a helmet when cycling.
- Among boys, kids in the 5-to-9 age bracket are three times more likely to don helmets than those in the 10-to-14 age group.
- A 2013 report revealed that among high schoolers who rode bikes, 88 percent never or almost never wore helmets.
Even when kids or adults know that wearing a helmet is best, that knowledge isn’t always enough to motivate them to put one on. However, there are other factors that can encourage regular helmet use.
- When states enact laws about helmet use for children, bike-related deaths decrease by about 15 percent.
- Giving away free helmets can quadruple usage rates in a community.
- Children are more likely to sport helmets if they ride with other kids who do so.
- Helmet use among kids increases when children ride in the company of adults, even if the adults don’t have helmets on.
The Other Tips That Can Help Reduce Injury
Although wearing a helmet is critical, it’s not the only way to help children stay safe as they ride bikes. Helmet use should be one part of a well-rounded bicycle strategy for bicycle safety.
- When possible, encourage kids to ride on bike paths. When riders use cycle tracks–dedicated bike paths that run alongside a road but are separated from the road–accidents decrease by 90 percent.
- Don’t let kids ride down hills or in construction areas. Both double the risk of injury.
- Have kids wear bright clothes while cycling. One study showed that accidents involving both a bicycle and a motor vehicle decreased by 55 percent when the cyclist wore a bright yellow jacket.
- Teach children to be especially careful at intersections. In 2014, almost one-third of bike accidents happened at an intersection.
- Using reflectors or bike lights is important when biking in low-light conditions. About 20 percent of accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m.
Putting Bicycle Statistics to Good Use
Do these safety statistics overwhelm you? Reading about injury rates could be enough to tempt you to keep your kids off of two wheels. One last statistic might help lift your spirits: From 1999 to 2014, bicycle fatalities decreased by 69 percent.
Bikes can be fun and useful, and when used properly, they can be safe too. Insisting that your children always use helmets is the best thing that you can do to promote safe riding.