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Diseases & Conditions : Adolescent Medicine

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Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety--Identifying High-Risk Situations

Most crashes involving children and adolescents on bicycles, in-line skates, or skateboards occur because the child or adolescent breaks a traffic rule. The majority of bicycle-related fatal crashes involve collision with a motor vehicle.

Bicycles

Common errors made when riding bicycles include the following:

  • Riding into the street without stopping

  • Running stop signs

  • Turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind

  • Riding against the flow of traffic

However, when children and adolescents wear helmets while riding their bikes, they can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent (head injury is the most common cause of death in bicycle-related deaths).

In-line skates

In-line skating has rapidly gained popularity since off-season ice hockey players began practicing with them in the 1980s.

In-line skating crashes can occur even if the individual is experienced in the sport. High-risk situations for in-line skaters include the following:

  • Learning to skate

  • Skating in the street

  • Crossing streets in densely populated areas

  • Changes in skating path conditions (such as traffic, water, potholes, or other debris)

  • Weather conditions that can change the surface condition of the road

As with bicycles, helmets can protect the in-line skater from serious, sometimes fatal, head injuries. In addition, other safety gear such as elbow and kneepads, gloves, and wrist guards can also minimize injuries in the event of a fall.

Skateboards

Skateboards, though popular among children and adolescents, send an estimated 26,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment of injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common injuries from a skateboard crash are sprains, fractures, and bruises, although some skateboard falls or collisions with motor vehicles can be fatal.

Most skateboard crashes occur because of irregular riding surfaces. In addition, inexperience (a skateboarder who has been skating for less than a week) accounts for one-third of all injuries.

Helmets and other protective gear, such as slip-resistant, closed shoes, wrist braces, and other padding may help reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a fall.