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Kids on wheels

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Safety tips for kids on wheels

Kids on wheels focuses on safety tips for children using skateboards, scooters, skates and bikes. It is important that children learn to use wheeled vehicles under adult supervision in a safe environment, particularly learning to steer and stop.

Each year many 'kids on wheels' sustain injuries associated with falls or collisions - often injuring vulnerable parts of the body such as the head, wrist, elbow and knees.

NRMA Motoring & Services, in conjunction with 'Kidsafe', has developed a 'Kids on wheels' brochure that gives tips on essential safety equipment children require and reinforces that safe use comes from safe learning... under adult supervision.

Key safety messages

Tricycles

  • Ensure the product is the right size for the child
  • Ensure that it is stable
  • Provide a safe area to use it - away from slopes, stairs and changes in level
  • Both the child's feet should be able to touch the ground when they are seated.

Bicycles 
Most bicycle injuries are the result of the child losing control of the bike (about 85 per cent), so getting the right size is vitally important.

A child should be able to touch the ground with both feet while seated in the saddle. Safety equipment on the bicycle is critical:

  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Reflectors
  • Bells
  • Visibility devices (reflective tape, flags, etc.)

Skateboards and Rollerblades
The most common injuries result from falls, although there have been injuries and deaths associated with running into vehicles and pedestrians.

The rollerblades need to be a comfortable, firm fit on the child's feet.

Micro-scooters
These devices are associated with fall injuries.

  • 66 per cent of those injured are under 14 years
  • There are reports of injuries associated with collisions with vehicles and pedestrians
  • Watch out for unsafe construction, with sharp objects and finger-tightened mechanisms
  • Can be very unstable due to small wheels
  • Braking system can be inadequate at the speeds that can be generated.

Essential Safety Equipment

Helmets

Parents need to make it clear to children that helmets are to be used every time.

  • Helmets are the most important piece of safety equipment and are intended to protect children's heads in the event of a fall
  • Studies on cyclists show that a helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by around 90 per cent.
  • In order to be effective, the helmet has to be well fitting. A good test is to put the helmet on and then push gently with the heel of the hand against the front of the helmet. If it easily moves around, then it does not fit.
  • To be effective, a helmet also has to be used!  

Knee/elbow guards

Designed to protect vulnerable points that research has shown are common points of contact in falls. Very important for:

  • Skateboarding - boarders commonly land on their knees
  • Rollerbladers - land on knees and elbows
  • Scooter riders - most prone to falls

Wrist guards

Designed to strengthen the wrist area so that a child falling and putting out a hand to break the fall is less likely to damage or break a wrist. Wrist injuries are very common for skateboard, rollerblade, scooter and micro-scooter riders.

Visibility

  • Wheeled devices should not be used in poor light or near traffic
  • Items useful to increase visibility to pedestrians and vehicles are:
    • Bright coloured clothing
    • Reflective tape
    • Reflectors
    • Visibility flags

Safe learning/safe use

It is important that children learn to use wheeled vehicles under adult supervision in safe environments, particularly learning to stop and to steer. This means areas away from uneven surfaces, slopes and other users.

Road authorities advise that child users of all wheeled toys should be accompanied by an adult until age 9 or 10, depending on the child's individual development. 

Please see Kids on wheels (PDF 272KB/2 Pages) for further information.

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