Safety Tips for Drivers, Parents, and Kids Who Bike or Walk to School

childrens bicycle safetyWarmer weather is a great opportunity for children to get outdoors, and that includes their daily commute. Children are being encouraged to ride and walk to school, both for fitness and as part of May’s designated National Bike Month. While relying on carbon-free transportation can help kids develop healthy habits, it also places them at increased risk of injuries due to falls and car accidents—and depending on when and where they are struck, these injuries could potentially last the rest of their lives.

5 Dangers for Kids Who Walk and Bike to School

No matter how far a child has to travel to get to school, he or she will likely encounter distracted drivers, other children, uneven pavement, and other dangers that carry a high risk of injury. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe on their way to and from school, including parents, drivers, and children themselves.

Children and adults should be aware of the most common hazards to children on their way to school, including:

  • Rider preparedness. Before any child sets off on a bike, parents should perform a helmet and bike check to make sure all safety gear is working properly. The child should be outfitted in comfortable, non-restrictive clothing, a well-fitting helmet, and a high-visibility jacket. Children grow quickly, so make sure bicycles are the correct size and type for the child and the riding conditions he or she will encounter.
  • Drivers. Hundreds of thousands of children under age 15 are injured every year in motor vehicles crashes, many of which are bicycle accidents involving cars. While it is a driver’s responsibility to remain vigilant on the road, children should be taught to cross streets only at crosswalks and to always look left-right-left before entering the street.
  • Traveling recklessly. Children should be taught safe walking and bicycling skills, such as how to change gear, how to properly use brakes, and how the weather can affect both walking and riding. They should be warned about risky behaviors, such as darting on and off sidewalks, turning in front of cars and other bikers, and paying more attention to friends or siblings than their surroundings.
  • Route safety. Traffic is supposed to move more slowly in neighborhoods and school zones, but that is not always the case. Parents should help their children map out a safe route to school, avoiding dirt roads or streets without dedicated crossings. Children should use the same route to and from school every day, making it easier for parents to find them in an emergency. Kids who bike to school should avoid roads with steep downhill descents, as these can cause a child to lose control of the bike.
  • Sidewalks. While the safest place for a bicycle is on the street, children under 10 cannot reasonably be expected to follow the rules of the road. For this reason, children are allowed to get to school and back by riding on the sidewalk. However, sidewalk riding carries its own dangers, so children should be on the lookout for vehicles coming out of driveways, vehicles turning at intersections, and the dangers of entering the street between parked cars.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are far more likely to sustain an injury in an accident than a driver or passenger of a car. A child’s small body and lack of collision protection can cause bone fractures, particularly if he is hit by a car or is flung from his bike. In addition to leg, arm, and collarbone fractures, children often break bones in their wrists and hands as they attempt to brace a fall. Even if a bicyclist is wearing a helmet, he or she can still suffer severe head trauma, including concussions, traumatic brain injury, hematoma, or even paralysis.

If you or a loved one has suffered a bicycle accident in Nashville, we can help you get the compensation you need for medical expenses, lost wages, and unnecessary pain and suffering. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

John Griffith
Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney