For a child, a bike is like a first vehicle and a symbol of independence.
But all too often, children are seriously injured or killed when they don't follow some basic rules....like wearing a helmet.
"When you buy the bike, get the helmet," says Dr. Benji Rodgers. "It's anywhere from 10 to 20 bucks. Get it at the same time and it's a rule. It's a habit."
Dr. Rodgers says you should always look for a helmet made specifically for riding a bicycle, and that it's approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
And you should always wear a helmet, no matter how close to home you may be.
According to healthychildren.org, more than 600 children die each year from bicycle falls.
"Parents will say, ‘Well, sometimes we're just going around the block,'" says Dr. Rodgers. "But most accidents happen right in your driveway or right around the block."
He says the helmet is designed to protect the head from serious injury and just like wearing a seatbelt in a car, the more your child sees you wear a helmet, the likelier they are to develop the same habit.
"They need to be outside," adds Dr. Rodgers. "But we need to be smart about them being outside."
Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.