Notes from the Nurses: Bike and Car Safety

As summer heats up, it's vital that your family practices safety at home and on the go. Below are some important tips about bike and car safety to ensure that your family is prepared for the days ahead.

Helmets

Bicycle helmet use should be mandatory for everyone in your family, no matter where you are or how short the ride. In many states, it's the law!

  • Pick a helmet with the following:
    • Bright colors or fluorescent colors that are visible to drivers and other cyclists.
    • Well-ventilated helmet.
    • Has a CPSC or Snell sticker inside (these let you know that the helmet meets standards set by trusted safety groups)
    • Fits correctly and can be adjusted with fastened straps
  • Be sure to replace any helmet made before 1999.
  • If your child hits any surface hard while wearing a helmet, replace it. Helmets lose their ability to absorb shock after taking serious hits.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Clothing should be:
    • Fluorescent or bright colored for visibility
    • Lightweight to prevent overheating
    • Not too loose
  • Backpacks:
    • Make sure straps are tied up and can't get tangled in the spokes of the wheels
  • Shoes:
    • Should be able to grip the bike's pedals
    • Never ride barefoot!

Rules for the Road for Bike Riding

  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as cars do. Yield to pedestrians, stop at red lights, and be especially careful at intersections.
  • Always ride in the same direction as cars do. Never ride against traffic.
  • Older kids should try to use bike lanes or designated bike routes whenever they can — not the sidewalk! Kids younger than 10 should ride on the sidewalk.
  • Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving a driveway, an alley, or a curb.
  • Watch traffic closely for turning cars or cars leaving driveways.
  • Don't ride too close to parked cars — doors can open suddenly.
  • Always walk a bike across busy intersections using the crosswalk and following traffic signals.
  • When riding in a group, always ride single file on the street.
  • When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left and call out "On your left!" so they'll watch for you.
  • Never:
    • Ride at dusk or in the dark
    • Share the seat with a friend or ride on the handlebars — only one person should be on a bike at a time. It's easy to lose balance or suddenly swerve into traffic when riding with a passenger.
    • Wear headphones while biking — it's very important to hear everyone else on the road at all times.
    • Stand up while riding a bike.
    • Hitch a ride on a moving vehicle.

Car Safety for Children

Use the Appropriate Safety Seat

  • Rear-facing seats from birth until age 2, or until your child reaches the upper weight limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which will be around 35 pounds. 
  • Forward-facing seats oce your child reaches the upper weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat. it is safest to keep your child in a forward-facing seat with a hrness until they reach the maximum weight limit (40-65 pounds) or height restriction of their seat. 
  • Belt-positioning booster seats once a child outgrows the upper weight or height limit of their forward facing harness. Children should use belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 4'9' and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • Lap & shoulder belts once the belt fits properly. All children under age 13 should ride in the back seat!

Install the safety seat correctly

Car seats are most effective when used properly. Make sure you read the installation instructions correctly. There are certified child safety seat technicians who can help. Contact 1-866-SEAT-CHECK for additional information.

Car Safety for Teens

Teaching Your Teenager to Drive:

  • Set an example, know the rules of the road, discuss the responsibilities of driving, and make sure your vehicle is safe and well-maintained
  • Make sure your child knows what to do in case of emergency (accident, flat tire, etc.)
  • Be familiar with the tasks and requirements of teaching your teen to drive. Click here for the Parent's Supervised Driving Program Guidebook (PDF).
  • Start out slow and simple, in a low traffic area or a parking lot. As your child progresses, work your way into more difficult driving situations. Practice makes perfect!

After Your Teenager Receives His or Her Driver's License:

  • Enforce crucial safety measures:
    • No cell phones
    • No eating and/or drinking while driving
    • Limit the number of passengers
    • Enforce a curfew
  • Gradually increase the amount of time and distance you allow your teen to drive
  • Ride with your teen occasionally to monitor his or her driving skills

References