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Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(11):2651

What causes bike crashes?

Sometimes the person on the bike makes a mistake and causes a crash. Sometimes car drivers or loose gravel on the road cause a crash. You are more likely to be hurt seriously if you are hit by a car or if you are riding fast. Children can be hurt while doing tricks on their bikes. Getting fingers or toes caught in the bike's spokes or pedals also can cause injuries.

What should I do if my child falls off a bike?

If your child hits his or her head, go see your doctor. Your child should get an exam even if the head injury doesn't look serious.

Can I do anything to keep my child from getting hurt?

The best way to protect your child is to make sure he or she wears a helmet while riding a bike. Make sure the helmet meets government standards. All children and adults should wear helmets when they ride, even on short trips. Some states have laws about wearing helmets while riding bikes.

Wearing a pair of sports sunglasses can stop dust and bugs from getting into your child's eyes. Brightly colored clothes make it easier for car drivers to see your children. Padded gloves protect their hands. A comfortable bike seat can reduce buttock pain.

Parents should teach children basic traffic rules and make sure they ride only in safe places. Children younger than 10 years should not ride near traffic.

How can I be sure my child's bike is safe?

It is always a good idea to make sure that everything on your child's bike works the right way. Get in the habit of checking to see that the brakes are working. Make sure there are no loose or broken parts. Reflectors and lights make your child's bike more visible in the dark.

What about child-carrier seats for adult bikes?

If you ride with a child on your bike, you should use a special seat that fits behind the main seat. Your child must always wear a helmet when riding with you. Make sure your bike has spoke guards to keep your child's feet from getting caught in the spokes.

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