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Get smart before school starts!

Photo Credit: DREAMSTIME - Bicycle safety is something that should be practiced by the whole family.September is a great month that still brings beautiful sunny days in the last days of summer.

What could be more perfect than a bike ride? Before you push on that pedal, remember that accidents do happen and one of the best ways to protect yourself from injury is by wearing your bike helmet.

According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly 48,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2011. It’s important to wear a bike helmet no matter what your age, but for kids 16 years old and younger, it’s also the law in Oregon if you’re riding in a public place because bike helmets protect your brain. Wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce your risk of a bicycle-related head injury by nearly 90 percent, yet nationwide estimates show that only about 15 percent of children use helmets all or most of the time when cycling.

“We receive a higher number of emergency calls in the summer, as well as before and after school gets out, for children involved in bicycle accidents,” says Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Lieutenant Dan Mitchael. “One important step that parents can do is model good habits for their kids by wearing helmets every time you ride.”

In addition to wearing bicycle helmets, riding smartly means following bike safety rules. These include riding on the right side of the road, riding in the same direction as traffic, using hand signals, and obeying traffic laws and signals. If possible, avoid riding at night and if you must, use lights and wear reflective or bright colored clothing.

As the school year starts in September, remember that more people and cars will be sharing the road especially around school zones, residential areas, playgrounds, and parks.