Helmets are the best way to protect from bike accidents. One in five kids still don't wear them

Doctors say when it comes to the kids we've got to make sure they're wearing helmets and according to a local survey, many are not. 

But now we know, a bike helmet can be a game changer. According to the latest University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital national poll, nearly 1 in 5 parents say their children never wear a helmet when biking. And consider this, it's the single most effective way to reduce injury and death if there's a bicycle crash. 

Some even suggest putting the helmet on a very young child when they're inside on push toys, just to get them in the habit. But above all - make sure it's the right helmet.

"It's good to look for a helmet that's certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So, it will say CPSC on the inside of the helmet. The helmet should also fit, and fit tightly," says Dr. Gregory Weaver of Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Dr. Weaver says a bike helmet should be tight enough so when it's on a child's head, it stays in place and doesn't move around.

The helmet should also have a well-fitting chin strap on the bottom. If you notice any visible damage to a helmet, such as a crack in the outer casing, or a crack on the inside foam, you need to replace it. Also, if the helmet has been involved in a crash, or if a child has outgrown it it's time to get a new one.

In addition to the right gear, Dr. Weaver says parents need to make sure older children, who may ride unsupervised, know the rules of the road. Here's one big rule: if you're on the road, ride your bike in the same direction as traffic. 

"You should be traveling with, not against, traffic. So, it can be very confusing for drivers of cars if they see a bike rider coming at them. Often we'll think that, oh gosh, it's maybe better to be facing traffic, so you can see the car coming toward you; it actually contributes to more of the injuries to be riding against traffic," Dr. Weaver says.

When possible have the young kids stick to trails or sidewalks, and warn the kids to watch out for parked cars. Sometimes a door opening in the path of a bike can lead to injury. 

A few other bike safety tips: 

  • Put away the phones, always be aware of surroundings
  • Keep in mind most bike related injuries happen between dusk and dawn. 
  • If you're driving, the new Michigan bike law says you need to give the bicyclist 3 feet of space when passing in your vehicle