8 Safety Tips

8 Essential Tips for Safer Riding

1. Ride with traffic, as far to the right as practical.

2. Obey signs and signals. Bikes must follow the same rules as motorized vehicles.

3. Respect the right of way of others. Cars don’t own the road, and neither do bikes.

4. Wear a helmet.  See helmet injury statistics.

5. Use hand signals so that others understand your intentions.

6. Be bright at night with lights, reflectors and light-colored clothing.

7. Rest off the road. Do not block lanes while stopped.

8. Steer straight and predictably.

Adapted with permission from National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Preventing Bicycle-related Head Injuries

How Large a Problem are Bicycle-Related Head Injuries in the United States?

  • In 1997, 813 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
  • Of these 97% were not wearing helmets.
  • In 1997, an estimated 567,000 Americans sustained a bicycle-related injury that required emergency department care.
  • Approximately two-thirds of these cyclists were children or adolescents.
  • An estimated 140,000 children are treated each year in emergency departments for head injuries sustained while bicycling.
  • Only 25% of children ages 5-14 years wear a helmet when riding. The percentage is close to zero when looking at teen riders.

Choosing Bikes and Helmets for Kids  

What Can Be Done?

  • Riders should wear bicycle helmets every time they ride.
  • Children and adolescents’ most common complaints are that helmets are not fashionable, or “cool”, their friends don=t wear them, and/or they are uncomfortable (usually too hot).
  • Riders also convey that they do not think about the importance of bike helmets, nor about the need to protect themselves from injury, particularly if they are not riding in traffic.
  • Accordingly, the national health goal for 2010 is for 50% of teenage bicyclists in 9th-12th grade to wear helmets.

What is CDC Doing to Increase National Helmet Use?

  • CDC developed and disseminated injury control recommendations on bicycle helmets.12
  • CDC provides grant funding to state health departments to implement and evaluate programs that promote helmet use.
  • CDC gives funds to selected injury control centers to promote helmet use.
  • CDC funds research to improve helmet design.
  • CDC collaborates with a host of other federal agencies and non-profit organizations to promote helmet use and bicycle safety. For more information about this collaborative effort, visit the National Bicycle Safety Network website: www.cdc.gov/ncipc/bike.

How Many States Have Bicycle Helmet Laws?

At least 15 states and more than 65 local governments had enacted some form of bicycle helmet legislation. Most of these laws pertain to children and adolescents.13

What Standards Exist to Ensure That Helmets Are Truly Protective?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a new safety standard for bike helmets in 1999. The new standard ensures that bike helmets will adequately protect the head and that chin straps will be strong enough to prevent the helmet from coming off in a crash, collision, or fall. In addition, helmets intended for children up to age five must cover a larger surface of the head than before. All bike helmets made or imported into the United States must meet the CPSC standard.14 

How Can You Help Prevent Injuries While Bicycling?

  • Wear a bicycle helmet every time you ride. A bicycle helmet is a necessity, not an accessory.
  • Wear your bicycle helmet correctly. A bicycle helmet should fit comfortably and snugly, but not too tightly. It should sit on top of your head in a level position, and it should not rock forward and back or from side to side. Always keep the helmet straps buckled.
  • Only buy a bicycle helmet if it meets or exceeds the safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Learn the rules of the road and obey all traffic laws. Ride with the traffic, on the right side of the road. Use appropriate hand signals. Respect traffic signals, which are meant for riders as well as drivers. Stop at all intersections, not just those intersections with pedestrian markings. Stop and look both ways before entering a street.
  • Children should not ride in the street until they are 10 years old, demonstrate good riding skills, and are able to observe the basic rules of the road. And, of course, children should always wear helmets when they ride.

Choosing Bikes and Helmets for Kids  


  1. NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, 1997: Bicyclists. Washington, D.C.: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 1997 Fatality Facts: Bicycles. Arlington (VA): IIHS, 1997.
  3. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Washington, DC: Consumer Product Safety Commission; 1997.
  4. Sosin DM, Sacks JJ, Webb KW. Pediatric head injuries and deaths from bicycling in the United States. Pediatrics 1996;98(5):868-70.
  5. U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Bicycle-related head injury or death. Washington (DC): CPSC, 1994.
  6. Thompson RS, Rivara FP, Thompson DC. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. N Engl J Med. 1989; 320:1361-7.
  7. Thompson DC, Nunn ME, Thompson RS, Rivara FP. Effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets in preventing serious facial injury. JAMA 1996; 276:1974-1975.
  8. Sacks JJ, Holmgreen P, Smith S, Sosin D. Bicycle-associated head injuries and deaths in the United States from 1984-1988. JAMA 1991;266:3016-8.
  9. Sacks JJ, Kresnow M, Houston B, Russell J. Bicycle helmet use among American children, 1994. Injury Prevention 1996;2:258-62.
  10. Public Health Service (PHS). Healthy People 2010 Objectives: Draft for Public Comment. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, PHS; 1999.
  11. Hatziandreu EJ, Sacks JJ, Brown R, Taylor WR, Rosenberg ML, Graham JD. The cost effectiveness of three programs to increase use of bicycle helmets among children. Public Health Reports 1995 May-Jun;110(3):251-9.
  12. CDC. Injury Control Recommendations: Bicycle Helmets. MMWR 44(RR-1)1995.
  13. Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI). Mandatory helmet laws: summary. Arlington (VA): BHSI, 1997.
  14. Federal Register. U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Safety standard for bicycle helmets; Final rule. FR Doc. 98-4214, February 13, 1998.

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