Bicycle/In-Line Skating/Skateboarding Safety - Identifying High-Risk Situations
Most crashes involving children on bicycles, in-line skates, or skateboards occur because the child breaks a traffic rule. The majority of bicycle-related fatal crashes involve collision with a motor vehicle.
Learning to ride a bicycle is a part of most childhoods in the US - with more than 70 percent of children ages 5 to 14 (27.7 million) riding bicycles. Children ride their bicycles more than average adults - as much as 50 percent more - which results in children accounting for almost one-quarter (21 percent) of all bicycle-related deaths and more than 54 percent of bicycle-related injuries.
Common errors made by young children riding bicycles include the following:
- riding into the street without stopping
- running stop signs
- turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind
- riding against the flow of traffic
However, when children wear helmets while riding their bikes, they can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent (head injury is the most common cause of death in bicycle-related deaths).
In-line skating has rapidly gained popularity since off-season ice hockey players began practicing with them in the 1980s. It is estimated by the National Safety Council that there are 20 million in-line skaters annually (all ages). According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, in 2003, 27,200 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in emergency rooms for in-line skating injuries.
In-line skating crashes can occur even if the child is experienced in the sport. High-risk situations for in-line skaters include the following:
- learning to skate
- skating in the street
- crossing streets in densely populated areas
- changes in skating path conditions (such as traffic, water, potholes, or other debris)
- weather conditions that can change the surface condition of the road
As with bicycles, helmets can protect the in-line skater from serious, sometimes fatal, head injuries. In addition, other safety gear such as elbow and kneepads, gloves, and wrist guards can also minimize injuries in the event of a fall.
Skateboards, though popular among children and adolescents, send an estimated 50,000 children to hospital emergency rooms for treatment of injuries each year, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. The most common injury from a skateboard crash is a fracture, although some skateboard falls or collisions with motor vehicles can be fatal.
Most skateboard crashes occur because of irregular riding surfaces. In addition, inexperience (a skateboarder who has been skating for less than a week) accounts for one-third of all injuries. An injury to the wrist (sprain or fracture) is the most common result of a fall.
Helmets and other protective gear, such as slip-resistant, closed shoes, wrist braces, and other padding may help reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a fall.
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