OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the study were to ascertain the causes of accidents, injuries, and deaths in children who ride bicycles. Fatality and injury rates were also studied in order to compare with other studies. METHODS: Two studies of children were undertaken in children aged less than 15 years. In the first (retrospective fatality study), children who died as a result of a bicycle incident during the period 1981-92 were reviewed. In the second (prospective injury study) data were obtained prospectively between April 1991 and June 1992 about children who were injured while riding a bicycle and treated at a public hospital in Brisbane. RESULTS: Study 1: fatality rates for boys were twice those for girls. The rate was highest for boys of 14 years in the metropolitan area at 6.23/100,000. All deaths involved vehicles, and the majority involved head injury or multiple injuries including head injury. Study 2: similar numbers of children were injured at onroad and off-road locations. Faculty riding was described by the rider or caregiver as the cause in 62.5% of cases. The most common time of injury was between 3 and 6 pm on both school and non-school days. Only 5.5% of all incidents involved a moving vehicle. CONCLUSIONS: Bicycle riding by children is a common cause of injury, particularly for boys. Equal numbers of injuries occurred on the road as at other locations. Faulty riding caused most accidents. Injury prevention for bicycle riders should involve not only compulsory wearing of helmets, but should also include education and training about safe riding habits, separation of motorised vehicles from bicycles, modified helmet design to incorporate facial protection, and improved handlebar design.
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