by Jessica Mitchell, Tucson Medical Center- Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator

For kids, springtime often means climbing trees and zipping around on a bicycle. The fun and freedom of a bicycle is a great confidence builder and form of exercise for kids. As they get ready to speed off around the neighborhood this spring, make sure they’re safe with a few simple rules from Safe Kids.

  1. Wear a properly-fitted helmet
    Properly-fitted helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 45 percent. Make sure your child has the right size helmet and that they wear it every time they ride. Don’t have a bike helmet? Not sure how to fit one? The Desert Kids Safety program at TMC has bike helmets for children, toddlers through teens. Call (520) 324-5604 for more information.
  2. Ride safely
    Ride in the same direction as traffic, as far on the right-hand side of the road as possible. Use hand signals and respect traffic lights and signage. Help children be predictable by making sure they ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars.
  3. Use hand signals
    If children are responsible enough to ride in the street, help them learn the proper hand signals. Acting like the rest of the traffic helps drivers predict their actions.
  4. Wear bright colors and use bike lights
    When your children are riding at dusk or dawn, make sure they use lights – and make sure their bikes have reflectors as well. It’s also smart to have them wear clothes and accessories that are brightly colored or have retro-reflective materials to improve visibility to motorists.
  5. Ride with your children
    Every child is different, but developmentally most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10. Stick together until you are comfortable that your kids are ready to ride on their own.

Additional safety tips:

  • Make eye contact with drivers
    Teach your children to make eye contact with drivers before they cross the street to make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop.
  • Maintain those bikes
    Inspect bicycles, to ensure that reflectors are secure, the brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.

Jessica Mitchell is the TMC community outreach specialist and the Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

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