Bicycle Safety :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Bicycle Safety

Every year bike crashes kill more than 200 children and send another 350,000 under the age of 15 to hospital emergency rooms. The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death related to bicycle crashes is a helmet. Bike helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85%.

How to Choose a Bike Helmet

  • Look for the label that says the helmet meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission safety standards or those developed by ASTM, SNELL or ANSI.
  • Choose a helmet your child likes.
  • Choose a helmet that fits comfortably, securely and correctly.
  • Check the helmet each year to make sure it still fits your child. Growing children may need a new helmet every few years.

How to Wear a Bike Helmet 

  • Make sure the helmet is worn low and level on the forehead (Picture 1). The forehead should be covered, with no more than 1-2 finger widths between the eyebrows and the helmet.
  • The helmet should not tip too far forward or too far back.
    Picture 1 - How to wear a bike helmet.
    Image of bicycle helmet
  • The side straps should form a “Y” beneath the child’s ears.
  • Make sure you ALWAYS buckle the chin strap. The helmet should be snug. It should not slide from side-to-side or front-to-back. No more than 1 or 2 fingers should fit under the strap.
  • Replace any helmet that has been in a crash. Even small cracks may make it less effective in preventing future injury.
  • Always wear a bike helmet every time and everywhere you ride.

Helpful Hints

  • Be consistent. Always insist your child wear a helmet when riding on wheels. That includes skates, scooters, skateboards, etc. Helmets should be worn for many winter sports too, including sledding, skiing and ice skating.
  • Start early. Begin the helmet habit with your child’s first set of wheels.
  • Be positive. Praise your child for wearing his or her helmet.
  • Practice what you preach. When you ride on wheels together, wear your own helmet. Children always learn by example.

Safe Cycling Tips

  • Stop and look in all directions for traffic when crossing the street.
  • Obey all traffic signs and lights.
  • Look to the front and to the rear before making a right or left hand turn and use approved hand signals to show the direction you will be turning (Picture 2).
  • Ride one person to a bike.
  • Never ride at night or in the rain.
  • Check your child’s bicycle for correct fit and properly working parts such as wheels, tires and brakes.
Picture 2 - Approved hand signals.
Image of bicycle signals

Bicycle Safety (PDF)

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