According to the CDC, each year more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are injured and more than 700 people die as a result of bicycle-related injuries. Children under the age of 15 account for more than half the injuries.
Two 12-year-old Brooklyn teens, in two separate incidents, were riding their bicycles when struck by a vehicle. One youth was struck by an automobile and suffered head trauma, while the other was struck by the rear tire of a school bus. Last month, a 13-year-old bicyclist died after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver of a Ford SUV. The teen was returning home from paying a utility bill for his parents, something he and his brother did monthly. Police are still searching for the driver. It is unknown whether any of these kids were wearing a bike helmet.
The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and school is nearing the end more people will be out riding bicycles, especially young children.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a bicycle helmet is the best protection from head injuries and deaths resulting from a bicycle accident. NHTSA statistics show that bicycle helmets are 85 to 88% effective in mitigating head and brain injuries. Yet, a recent study found that of the 82% of Americans who admitted wearing a helmet was important, only 44% stated that they actually would wear one.
A bike helmet is essential safety gear for every bicyclist. A label should be affixed to the helmet indicating that it meets the standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test. The rim of the helmet should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows, the straps should form a “V” just below the ear lobe, the buckle should be flat against the skin and the strap should feel snug when the rider’s mouth is open. Test the fit by opening your mouth wide to yawn and confirm that your helmet pulls down on your head. If it stays put, tighten the strap.
Bicycling is a dangerous activity; it is no match against a vehicle. Don’t tempt fate! Think safety first! This summer protect you and your family from accidents and injuries associated with bicycling.
- Wear a helmet.
- Follow traffic rules. Ride with the flow of traffic.
- Wear reflective, bright clothing. Use reflectors – white in front and red in back especially when riding after dark.
- Use bike mirrors.
- Signal your intentions. Use a bicycle horn to warn vehicles of your presence.
- Stay as far to the right as practical when riding in traffic lanes.
- Do not let children ride unsupervised until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules.
- Make sure the bike itself is the right size for the child. There should be about 1-inch of clearance between the bike frame and the child’s groin when the child’s feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair — reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated. When in doubt, ask the sales staff at a bicycle shop for expert advice on fitting and adjusting bikes and helmets.
- Always use caution and common sense.
- Keep in mind that a vehicle is much heavier and more powerful than a bicycle. Unlike a vehicle, cyclists do not have seatbelts or airbags.
Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.