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How can I keep my child safe while bicycling this summer?

Over the summer, many children want to spend their free time outside riding their bicycles. Bicycling can be a great way for kids to burn off excess energy and stay involved with neighborhood friends. However, bicycling can also be dangerous.

When bicycling, children can be injured in several ways. The most catastrophic bicycle accidents can involve a child being hit by a car. However, there are some actions you can take as a parent to help prevent a tragedy like this from occurring.

Check for proper fit

Children grow quickly, so it can be tempting to purchase your child a bicycle that is big enough for your child to grow into. However, attempting to ride a bicycle that is too big can cause your child to have poor control of the bicycle. With poor control, your child’s behavior might not be predictable to drivers. When a driver can predict your child’s behavior, the driver can be better prepared to avoid a collision. Wobbling, weaving or losing control of a bicycle can cause your child to end up suddenly in the path of traffic, and drivers may not have adequate time to avoid a collision.

Another temptation you may have is to purchase a helmet that your child can grow into. If your child wears a bicycle helmet that is too big for him or her, the helmet may not be able to properly protect your child’s head from injury. Make sure that your child’s helmet is the appropriate size for your child’s head, that the helmet is adjusted for the most precise fit possible, and that your child wears the helmet with properly bucked straps each time he or she bicycles.

Encourage visibility

Regardless of the time of day your child rides bicycle, it can be helpful to encourage him or her to be as visible as possible. During the day, bright clothing can help make your child visible to others.

Bicycling at night is more dangerous that riding during the day because darkness naturally reduces visibility. It may be safest for you to prohibit your child from riding bicycle at night. However, it may be prudent to also increase your child’s nighttime visibility by applying flashing lights or reflectors to your child’s bicycle. You may also consider applying reflective tape to your child’s helmet, backpack, shoes or other items that your child usually has with him or her when bicycling.

Discourage distractions

When your child bicycles, he or she should be focused on the road and the surroundings. If your child has his or her own cellphone, remind him or her not to use it while bicycling.

While cellphone use may seem obvious, music is another distraction, though many parents and kids do not realize this. Using headphones can prevent your child from hearing what is going on around him or her, which could prevent your child from reacting fast enough to avoid a hazard.

Being hit by a car is a tragedy that your child should never have to experience. However, if your child is injured in a collision involving a motorized vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with your child’s injury.

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