Obey Maryland Helmet Laws for Safe Back-to-School Biking
It’s back-to-school season in Maryland. Our morning and afternoon commutes will once again be dotted with children riding bikes back and forth every day. Bicycle safety should always be a priority for parents and kids — and that starts with wearing a bike helmet.
Maryland law requires all bicyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. Some local jurisdictions may set their own rules. For example, the Town of Sykesville requires people of all ages to ride helmeted. There’s a good reason for a universal mandate. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, helmets reduce the risk of a serious head injury by 85 percent.
Bike Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury
Decades ago, bike helmets weren’t a thing. Anyone who saw Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” remembers the iconic scene where a group of kids race away on bicycles to save their beloved alien from being seized by government officials. Not one of them was wearing a helmet. People didn’t think twice.
Today, they’re paying attention. Currently, 21 states and Washington, D.C. have bicycle helmet laws in place.
The risk of injury from a bicycle accident is high, especially for children, who are less coordinated, less visible, and have limited attention spans. A recent news article reports traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) account for 11 percent of the total injuries suffered in bicycle accidents. Most occur in kids between 10 and 14.
Consider these additional bike accident statistics:
- Every year, 200 kids younger than 15 die from bicycle accident injuries. Another 9,000 are hospitalized.
- Helmet use significantly lowers the risk of head injuries, brain injuries, neck injuries, and facial injuries.
- In a recent decade, more than 2.2. million kids between 5 and 17 were hospitalized for bike-related injuries. That’s about 25 children per hour.
- Bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles significantly increase the likelihood of traumatic brain injuries and hospitalization.
Back-to-School Bike Safety Tips
The most critical step you can take to prevent severe injuries from bicycle accidents is to make sure your kids are wearing a helmet. Here are some other tips:
- Set a good example. Be a good role model for your child by always wearing your bicycle helmet.
- Discuss street smarts. Teach them to look “left-right-left” when biking at intersections, near driveways, and along neighborhood streets and alleys.
- Teach them hand signals. Just as you use the turn signal in your car to tell people where you’re going, your kids will need hand signals to communicate their intent on the bike. Here’s a handy chart from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- No distracted biking. No earbuds, headphones, or cell phone use while riding.
- Ride in a group. Bicyclists often get into trouble because they are less visible to other drivers. Riding with others improves visibility for everyone.
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Maryland
At Trollinger Law LLC, we wish you a safe and happy return to the school year. If you or a loved one is hurt while riding a bike, call or contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Maryland bicycle accident lawyer.