Children ride bicycles everywhere, and the Chicago area is no exception. If a child has a bike of his or her own, it can open up a world of freedom. Transit to and from school, a friend’s house, summer camp, or even to run errands for the family. It is hard to spend time outside in Illinois in the summer without seeing a child riding a bicycle.
With the freedom a bicycle provides, though, there are risks to those children who ride. The most serious is when a collision occurs between a child on a bike and motor vehicle. These accidents often result in injuries and necessitate working with a Chicago child bicycle accident lawyer.
Kids between the ages of 5 and 14 sustain injuries more often in bicycle accidents than in any other sport. These accidents send thousands of children to the hospital each year. Only about 45 percent of children wear helmets nationally. Therefore, more than half of kids are at risk for serious head injuries if in a bicycle accident.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Kids
The following are recommendations to keep your chile safe while cycling.
Make Sure Your Child Uses a Bike Helmet
The most important thing any parent can do to keep their child safe while riding a bike is a bicycle helmet. Experts estimate that bike helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by 88%.
Not all bike helmets are the same. Therefore, it is important that parents select a bike helmet that meets minimum safety standards.
Additionally, a helmet is not ready to wear right after purchase. Instead, parents need to adjust the straps and make sure that the helmet fits as designed.
Your child’s bike helmet should come with detailed instructions on this process. The general idea is that the helmet should be level from front to back and that the straps should be snug. This ensures that it remains in the proper spot.
Also, make sure that the helmet sits above your child’s eyes so that their vision remains unobstructed. If you are concerned about what helmet to get, contact your local bike store. Many offer assistance with helmet selection and will even help adjust the helmet so it fits your child and will keep your child safe.
Know the Rules of The Road
Kids should be encouraged to follow all local laws while riding bikes. These can vary greatly from city to city. So, it is important for parents to have an understanding of the rules where they live.
For example, some municipalities only allow kids of a certain age to ride on the sidewalk. Older kids and adults are required to ride in the street.
Other towns may encourage all riders to remain on the sidewalk to separate bicyclists from motorists. Check with your local authorities to make sure you know the rules of the road for biking.
Ride on The Right Side of The Road
Bicyclists should ride with traffic whenever possible. This means that they should ride on the right side of the road or the right sidewalk. Further, they should stay as far to the right as possible.
Use Hand Signals When Turning
When turning, kids should be encouraged to use hand signals to let drivers know which way they will be traveling. This also alerts others that a bicycle will be crossing a street.
Ride Bikes Safely at Night
When riding at night, children should always:
- Use a bike light
- Have reflectors on different parts of the bike
- Wear reflective clothing and bright colors to make themselves as visible as possible
Common Causes of Bike Accidents Involving Children
In 2018, there were 368 kids ages 14 and younger who were hurt in bicycle collisions in the state of Illinois. Of those, 36 kids did sustain a serious injury and tragically there were two fatalities. Kids are at the mercy of drivers and depend on them to act in a safe manner. Otherwise, accidents will happen.
Here are a few situations where a child can get hurt while riding a bike:
Bike Accidents Caused by Speeding in Residential Areas
Many of these crashes happen where you least expect them – in the neighborhood where a child lives. Cars driving too fast through a residential area coupled with children riding in the street can lead to collisions and injuries.
After these accidents, the driver often claims that he or she never saw the child. However, this does not give a driver the right to strike a child on a bicycle. Even if a child is hard to see, it is still the driver’s responsibility to stay alert and watch for cyclists.
Bicycle Accidents Caused by Drivers Failing to Yield
Another common type of bike accident involving children is one that occurs when a car turns in an intersection. This usually happens when a child is crossing in front of a vehicle that wants to turn either left or right. Drivers may check for oncoming traffic, but then turn without checking to see if a child is present on a bicycle.
Too often, a turning car hits a child and then blames the child and the child’s lack of experience for causing the crash. Just like in any other instance, when a child is in a crosswalk, he or she has the right-of-way. A driver must yield to that child and not turn until it is safe to do so.
Motorists can also cause crashes when they do not stop at a stop sign or red light. These collisions can cause some of the worst injuries. This is because the car is often traveling at full speed at the time of impact.
All drivers should realize that bicycle accidents involving children can happen during any month of the year. While summertime may see the largest number of kids riding bikes, there are children who ride year-round, including on their way to school.
Child bike accident attorneys in Chicago at Abels & Annes see these collisions happen any month of the year. Therefore, motorists should not assume that they are free from the threat of a crash simply because of the time of the year.
What to Do if Your Child Has Been Hurt
If your child has been hurt while riding a bicycle, you may have legal rights to a recovery against the at-fault individual who caused the crash. Contact a Chicago child bicycle accident lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C. and let us provide you with a free case consultation regarding the accident. We can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (312) 924-7575.
If we take the case, we never charge a fee unless a recovery is made on your child's behalf. If you prefer, contact us online for a free consultation. Call us now and let us help your family get the recovery you deserve.