Keeping Kids Safe On Bikes


Approximately 118 children in the United States died from a bike-related injury in 2013, according to Safe Kids. Around 52 percent of these deaths were among children ages 15 to 19. More children are seen in emergency facilities due to bike-related injuries than any other sport.

McLeod Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal recommends the following bike safety tips:

  1. Purchase the right equipment.  Before a ride, it is important to take steps to make sure your child is protected. Buy a bicycle that is the right size for your child – not one he or she will "grow into." Bring them along to the bike shop to purchase the right fit. Be sure to place reflectors on the front, back, and sides of the bike, skates or scooter. Refrain from dressing your child in loose clothing due to clothes getting caught in chains or spokes. Check often to ensure that reflectors are secure, brakes are working properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are on tight and properly inflated.

When purchasing a helmet conduct the helmet fit test to ensure it is the right size for your child.

  • Eyes: Put the helmet on your child’s head and have him/her look up. You should see the bottom rim of the helmet.
  • Ears: Make sure the straps form a "V" under your child’s ears when buckled. The straps should be a little tight but comfortable.
  • Mouth: Have your child open their mouth as wide as possible. Does the helmet hug their head? If not, tighten the straps.

For a visual aid in conducting the helmet fit test watch this instructional video.

  1. Wear the proper helmet. Studies show in children ages five to fourteen, 52% do not have a helmet present, 41% use a helmet, and 7% have a helmet present but it is unused. When worn, bicycle helmets cut the risk of severe brain damage by up to 88%.

It is also important that children wear the proper helmet for each wheeled sport. When biking, roller skating, inline skating, or riding a scooter, a bike helmet should be worn. For skateboarding and longboarding, a skateboarding helmet is ideal.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to remember a helmet for your child or to have them wear one. However, steps like these can ensure a helmet is worn every time to significantly increase your child’s safety:

  • Make it a habit from the first time your child rides a tricycle, bike, or roller skates. Be sure he or she wears a helmet every time they ride.
  • Enforce the simple rule: "No helmet, No wheels."
  • Explain that riding on wheels can be fun but also dangerous and wearing a helmet can keep children from badly hurting their head.
  • Let your child choose the helmet so it is more likely to get worn.
  • Wear one yourself. Remember: a child is more likely to wear a helmet when you do, too.
  1. Teach children about rules of the road.  It is important to teach children lessons about safety on the roads and to remind ourselves of them as well. It is also crucial to always follow the safety rules and traffic laws in order to remain protected.

Remember that bikes travel with traffic, not against it. Ride on the right-hand side of the road. Also, it is important for them to use hand signals when turning.

            Before a child crosses a street, instruct them to:

  • Use a crosswalk if they can.
  • Stop and look: Left, right, and left again.
  • If a car or truck is coming, wait until it is gone before you start to cross.
  1. Pay attention to the weather. Children should only ride or skate in good weather and during the day. They should stay on sidewalks and paths, not roads, until the age of ten. When riding in the evening “be bright and use lights.” Make sure the bike has reflectors and have the child wear bright clothes so drivers will see them.


To learn more safety tips, visit the bike safety section on the Safe Kids website or call McLeod Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal at (843) 777-5021 to speak to an Injury Prevention Specialist. Visit us at or on Facebook under McLeod Safe Kids.

McLeod Safe Kids Pee Dee/Coastal is funded in part by the McLeod Health Foundation.