School’s out for the summer, the sun is out, the weather is fantastic, and the roads are becoming riskier. Unfortunately, the summer months tend to mean a rise in the number of motor vehicle accidents. Parents of school-aged children and teenagers should be concerned with this trend because it means there’s an increased risk for bicycles to be struck by motor vehicles.
Bicycle Accident Risks Increase for Children Each Summer
Many bicycle and safety advocacy organizations report that a greater number of bike accidents and injuries occur between May and September than all other times of the year. It is estimated that 11 percent of those killed in bicycle accidents are children, with kids aged 10 to 15 being the most likely to be involved in a bicycle accident. So, why is this?
Once kids are on summer break, many of them take to the streets on their bikes, and it’s usually the older children who are given permission to travel farther away from home. Riding a bike to a friend’s house, the local swimming pool, or the neighborhood playground offers children a sense of independence and freedom. In order to get from point A to point B, these children may need to navigate heavily trafficked areas, or may need to ride their bicycles at dusk or after dark. All of these situations increase the chances of collision with a motor vehicle.
Protecting Young Bicyclists During the Summer
Although there are risks associated with bike riding during the summer months, you don’t have to ban your children from being able to enjoy this particular right of passage. Instead, we recommend taking some simple yet pragmatic steps to ensuring that your kids stay safe while on their bicycles:
- Enroll in Bicycle Safety Classes – Even if your child has great balance and experience in riding his or her bicycle, it’s a good idea to enroll in a bicycle safety class a the beginning of the summer. These courses will familiarize your kids with bicycle traffic and safety laws that will allow them to navigate traffic with confidence.
- Install Lights and Reflectors – One of the primary reasons why children are struck on bicycles is because drivers are unable to see them. The more visible your child is, the safer he or she is. Reflectors will make it much easier for a child to be seen, and headlights will not only help to boost visibility on the road but will also make it easier for your son or daughter to see any upcoming obstacles and steer clear of them.
- Install a Bell – Bicycle bells aren’t just cute and whimsical; they can save lives. Make sure that your child’s bell is functioning and is loud enough to be heard. Children should be taught to ring bells when passing other bicyclists or crossing intersections in order to avoid bike-to-bike collisions that could cause them to fall in the middle of busy roads and get struck by a car.
- Invest in a Great Helmet – Your child should never ride a bicycle without a high-quality helmet. Have your child sign an agreement stating that he or she will wear a helmet at all times, with confiscation of the bike as punishment if the agreement is broken.
Know Your Rights
Bicyclists have rights on the road, and it’s important to understand what those rights are. In the event that your child, yourself, or a loved one is struck by a motor vehicle while on a bicycle, you need to be able to fight for justice. In many cases, motorists are held liable for these types of crashes, as they have an obligation to exercise “reasonable caution” whenever operating a vehicle. Failing to watch out for kids or failing to respect bicycle laws is not acceptable.
The experts at Mintz law Firm are ready to help you with for your rights. Give us a call or email us for a free consultation today.