As a teacher, your student's safety is a primary concern. One message you can share is how they can keep safe outside their classroom – for instance, on their way to school. For students who bike to school, the following information could help them avoid an unpleasant accident.
About one million non-fatal injuries occur each year to bicyclists. What can you do to help protect your students from getting injured, or even killed, while riding a bicycle?
Farmers offers a bicycle safety brochure with safety tips for you, your family and your students. You can order as many brochures as you need through your local Farmers agent, or download it here.
Children and Bikes
It up to adults to educate kids about the importance of bicycle safety. Remember: a bike is their first vehicle, and you are the driver's education teacher.
You may think a child is safe because he or she just rides around the neighborhood. But serious bicycle crashes often occur on quiet neighborhood streets. This is especially true for young children.
Children under age 10 should not ride their bikes in the street. They are not able to identify and adjust to the many dangerous traffic situations. Nor should they ride unsupervised on sidewalks, which can be even more hazardous than streets since motorists may not watch for fast-moving cyclists at driveways and intersections.
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After a properly-maintained bicycle, a helmet is the most important item of safety equipment that a bicyclist can have. Three out of every four bike riders killed in crashes die from head injuries. A helmet decreases head injury by about 85 percent. Children need the protection that a good helmet provides——in some states, safety helmets are now mandatory. A brightly-colored helmet makes the bicyclist more conspicuous in traffic and thus can help him or her to avoid collisions.
Be a bicycle helmet advocate:
- Encourage your student's parents to buy helmets which are properly sized and fitted for both safety and comfort.
- Urge your students to start a “helmet habit” with their first bicycle.
- Always encourage your students to wear their helmets.
- Be a role model – wear your own helmet when riding your bicycle.
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Preventing Bicycle Theft
A bicycle is an investment worth protecting whether it's an old 10-speed or a child's new mountain bike. A few basic precautions may save a lot of aggravation in the long run. Pass this tips on to your students:
- Always lock a bike when you must leave it unguarded.
- Be sure to park legally -- a lock that stops thieves will not stop an illegally-parked bike from being impounded.
- Buy the best locking system you can afford; few, if any, are as expensive as a new bike.
- Choose a locking system that cannot be easily cut, such as a U-shaped lock or a heavy duty lock with a strong wire cable.
- Always try to secure the bicycle's frame and both wheels to a stationery object, such as a post or a fence. When locking to a post, be sure the bicycle and lock can't be simply lifted over the top of the post. It's not enough to secure only the front wheel—the rest of the bike can be easily stolen.
- Protect your investment by recording your bicycle's make, model, and serial number; this may help to recover your bicycle if it's stolen and will be helpful with filing an insurance claim in case of loss or damage.
- Register your bicycle with your local police department if this service is available in your area. Otherwise, you might consider registering with the National Bike Registry.
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Safety When Cycling
Always try to cycle predictably and under complete control so that others will know what to expect from you. In a significant number of collisions, motorists report either not seeing the cyclist at all, or not in time to avoid the collision.
- Bicycles must keep to the right of the road.
- They should ride as close as is safely possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the road except when passing, when preparing for a left turn, or when avoiding unsafe conditions.
- Know and obey traffic regulations, signs, signals and markings. Lane controls apply to bicycles too: do not turn left from the right side of the road, or go straight ahead from a right-turn-only lane.
- Choose to ride on a route with few cars, slow traffic and clearly marked intersections.
- Cycle defensively; look out for the other guy.
- Always stop and look left-right-left before entering the road.
- Cycle with traffic, not against it. Ride single file.
- Don't carry passengers or items that interfere with your control. Do not ride with headphones that keep you from hearing other traffic approaching.
- Never hitch on to motor vehicles.
- Use hand signals. Hand signals tell motorists what you intend to do. At night or in the rain, reflective trim on your jacket sleeves or gloves can make signals much more conspicuous.
- When moving from one lane to another, signal, always look back first and yield to traffic.
- At really busy intersections, you may want to walk your bike like a pedestrian, especially when making a left turn.
- When approaching hazardous surfaces, such as grates, train tracks, or wet leaves, reduce your speed before you reach the hazard. Avoid quick turns and sudden stops, and accelerate and brake more slowly than usual.
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