Tricycle Safety Tips for Kids

Have fun and teach skills while keeping your little one safe

tricycle safety
Got a preschooler who loves to ride a tricycle? Make sure you follow these common safety tips. The boy above, for example, should be wearing a helmet!. Andre Gallant

Teaching your preschooler to ride a tricycle isn't just a rite of childhood -- it's a great way to help them learn the rules of the road and work on building their gross motor skills. But even though it seems like a pretty safe proposition -- three stable wheels, a center of gravity that is close to the ground -- according to a recent study, tricycle accidents caused the most toy-related deaths to young children in 2012.

Tricycle accidents are also a common cause of injuries, with 9,340 reported to emergency rooms in 2012 and 2013. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • More boys are injured than girls -- boys were part of nearly 64 percent of all injuries sustained from a tricycle riding accident.
  • The most common injury from a tricycle riding accident is a laceration to the face, and the head is injured the most.
  • In kids ages three and five, the most common injury is internal organ damage.

Startling statistics, right? So it's important that when after you buy your preschooler a tricycle your follow certain safety precautions, and teach them to your little one. Here's what you should keep in mind:

  1. Don't let your preschooler ride a tricycle until they are big enough and physically ready. In the study mentioned above, researchers found the age group with the most injuries were kids ages one to two years old. 
  1. Buy or acquire a tricycle that is size-appropriate for your child at the time you are buying. Often parents "buy bigger" in hopes that  their child will grow into the larger bike. In this case, it isn't a good idea because kids need to develop certain balance and coordination and in order to do that, they'll need to ride something that fits their current body. 
  1. Always wear a helmet! Make sure your child wears it every time he or she rides their tricycle. Make sure the helmet fits your child properly
  2. Teach your child to always ask first before they start to ride. 
  3. Make sure the tricycle that your child is about to ride is stable. It should have two smaller wheels in the back, and one large wheel in the front. If you are buying or acquiring the tricycle second-hand, check to make sure that all of the pieces fit securely and that the trike has not been part of a recall
  4. Wherever you decide to allow your child to ride should be clearly marked off, as well as be a smooth surface. Never allow your child to ride a tricycle, bike, or any type of ride-on toy near a driveway, road, pool, or other type of hazard.
  5. If you are going for a walk while your child rides the tricycle or will be in some type of public place, remember that your child is going to be very low to the ground while he or she rides. Other people may not see him or her coming. Consider attaching a flag to the back of the tricycle for increased visibility. 
  1. Just because your child can ride a tricycle well, doesn't mean he or she is necessarily ready to graduate to a big kid bike quickly. Most children do not have the proper balance and coordination to start riding a bike with training wheels until they are at least five years old, or a two-wheel bike without training wheels until they are at least six years old. 

Source: Tricycle Injuries Presenting to US Emergency Departments, 2012–2013

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