It may be years before your child is ready to drive, but it’s important to start teaching the rules of the road much sooner. Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South, says bicycle riders are subject to most of the same traffic rules as motor vehicles.

“The minute a bicycle enters a pathway, a sidewalk, a park, a street or road, it is not a toy. It is a vehicle. This means obeying traffic lights and right of way rules. It is the responsibility of every cyclist to adhere to these laws as well as other safety guidelines,” Helms said.

One important guideline Helms stresses is that helmets are required while riding on any Tennessee roadway for those 16 and younger.

Make sure the helmet fits and your kids know how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly.

Safe Kids recommends the Eyes, Ears and Mouth test:

  • EYES: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
  • EARS: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
  • MOUTH: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

To learn more about bike safety, visit Safe Kids Worldwide.

Susan Helms is the director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South. Founded in 1991, the program is part of a world-wide child safety campaign and has contributed to a decrease in severe child injury rates by 33 percent in our region. Trained as a pediatric nurse, Susan has worked at Le Bonheur since 1980, including 10 years in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She’s the proud grandmother of two.