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What is the Bicycle Helmet Law for Children in the State of Florida? The Importance of Bicycle Safety

By David Wolf, Attorney and Kurt Sigmund, Legal Assistant
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Florida and other States, children enjoy riding their bicycles out in the fresh air. It provides exercise and some independence for them. Children love to ride to school, a friend’s house, or even the store. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), America has approximately 33 million riders. See more Bicycle Statistics in America. The CDC also reports that 153,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for head injuries sustained while riding a bike. Some of which were tragically fatal personal injuries. It should be noted that a bicycle accident or injury can take place on a short ride, long ride, or even in the very own driveway of the child. As such, it is vital that a child (at all times) wear a bicycle helmet as one measure to prevent or limit the extent of personal injuries when there is an accident or incident involving the use of a bicycle.

It is well known that a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injury. Today, parents must, by law, require their child to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle and follow the other provisions of the Florida laws on point. In the State of Florida, no parent or guardian of a minor may permit or knowingly allow the minor to violate the Florida Bicycle Laws and Regulations. Here are a couple of tips to consider to help both you and your child follow these laws:

1. Habit, Habit, and Habit. There should be no exceptions for the child wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle. Short rides – long rides and all rides in between – a child must always wear a bicycle helmet. If the child cannot find the helmet, then the child will not ride the bicycle that day. By developing this habit and making no exceptions along the way, a child will be much more likely to wear a bicycle helmet.

2. Empowering the Child – Choice. While a child should not be given the choice or option of wearing a helmet, a child can be given a say as to which helmet the child will wear. A child can pick out the style and color assuming that the helmet is reasonably priced and otherwise is the kind of helmet made for bicycle use and safety.

3. Reward System. Some parents may want to institute a reward or star system for a child wearing a helmet. Again, this may help institute the good habit of the child wearing a helmet. Consistently wearing the bike helmet should be the goal.

The Florida Bicycle Helmet Laws were enacted to to promote safety of children. Specifically in State of Florida, helmets are required for all children 16 and under. Yet, it remains important for riders of all ages. The helmet also must be properly sized and fitted for the child. Riders must also refrain from carrying another passenger on a bike built for one.

The better parents and children comply with the Florida Bicycle Safety Laws and use their common sense when riding a bicycle – the better. Like many other activities that a child engages in from school to sports to extra-curricular endeavors, safety should always be paramount to everything else.

When a child suffers a personal injury, a parent is often faced with many challenges and questions. There are a number of resources available to parents dealing with these issues including the following books:

The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know; and

When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident.

You can get either or both books for free by clicking on the book title above.

Here is the full text of Section 316.2065, Florida Statutes – Bicycle Regulations:

 (1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.

 (2) A person operating a bicycle may not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.

 (3) (a)A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped, except that an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling.

 (b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), a bicycle rider must carry any passenger who is a child under 4 years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is designed to carry a child of that age or size and that secures and protects the child from the moving parts of the bicycle.

 (c) A bicycle rider may not allow a passenger to remain in a child seat or carrier on a bicycle when the rider is not in immediate control of the bicycle.

 (d) A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap and that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, final rule, 16 C.F.R. part 1203. A helmet purchased before October 1, 2012, which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department may continue to be worn by a bicycle rider or passenger until January 1, 2016. As used in this subsection, the term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.

 (e) Law enforcement officers and school crossing guards may issue a bicycle safety brochure and a verbal warning to a bicycle rider or passenger who violates this subsection.