Bicycle & Helmet Safety

Bike-Related Injuries are Preventable at Any Age

Young children are five times more likely to be injured in a bicycle crash than riders age 15 or older. More than 280,000 kids with bicycle-related injuries visit an emergency room each year. As the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in South Texas, we treat many of these kinds of traumatic injuries. Even among adults, bike fatalities in Texas are the third highest in the nation.

The trauma team at University Health System is committed to the whole health of this community, and we believe that means preventing critical injuries in all age groups.

We’re Part of This Community

Our Injury Prevention Department is an extension of our trauma team. Because we treat so many serious, but preventable, injuries in our facilities, our injury prevention experts spend time in the community. As part of our injury prevention initiative, we educate kids, teens and adults on bike safety, including how to choose a helmet and how to make sure it fits properly.

Bike Safety & Helmet Use Recommendations

Bike riding is a great outlet for fun and exercise at any age as long as you use caution. Review these tips before your next ride and teach your kids how to stay safe on the road.

Check Bikes Before Each Ride

All riders need a bike of the proper size, preferably with a horn or a bell for young riders. Once you have chosen the right bike, frequently perform this seven-point inspection on your kids’ bikes and your own:

  1. Brakes – smooth, responsive
  2. Chain – oiled, tight
  3. Handlebars – secure on each side
  4. Seat – fixed in place
  5. Front/rear reflectors – clean, no cracks
  6. Tires – no cuts or cracks
  7. Wheels – no loose or broken spokes

Wear a Helmet on Every Ride

Wearing a helmet reduces kids’ risk of severe brain injury by 88 percent. CDC reports only 15 percent of children use helmets all or most of the time while cycling. (Just 19 percent of adults wear a helmet when they ride.) Lead by example and make sure you and your child wear bright, well-ventilated helmets on every ride.

Choose a Helmet That Fits Properly

Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps should be buckled but not fit too tightly. Visit Safe Kids to review the helmet fit test.

Draw the Attention of Drivers

If you and your children ride near dark – either early or late – help improve motorists’ ability to see everyone:

  • Wear white or bright colors and reflective materials
  • Use front lights, helmet lights, blinkers and/or reflectors

Follow the Rules of the Road

It’s important to teach your children how to ride cautiously and confidently. In addition to wearing a helmet, teach your kids to:

  • Make eye contact with drivers at intersections before crossing.
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Stay as far to the right as possible.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals.
  • Obey traffic signals.
  • Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street or crossing an intersection.
  • Look behind and yield to oncoming traffic before turning left.
  • Remember, your children are watching you, so be a good example!