May is National Bicycle Safety Month.
In North Carolina, non-profits and local agencies will be giving out bike helmets donated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to kids all month.
Helmets have prevented many serious injuries and deaths in the past 20 or so years. But a grieving mother points out, there's much to more to it than just helmets.
"I talk to them about the importance of really educating children about bicycle safety," Luly Beckels told ABC 11.
Beckles' 7-year-old son was wearing a properly fitted helmet when he was hit by a drunk driver whose SUV was on the wrong side of the road.
May 20, 2021 will mark 15 years since the tragic crash near their Winston-Salem home.
Beckles has spent much of that time trying to honor Josh's memory by teaching and preaching bike safety.
"Your children need to learn the rules of the road. Your children need to learn hand signals if they're going to get on a bike," she said. "Your children need to understand and you do too that you're not giving them a toy. You're giving them a vehicle. Under state law, a bicycle is a vehicle."
Dr. Scott Elton agrees saying, "Getting those messages out is really important, and so having a month devoted (to bike safety) is important."
Elton is well aware this is National Bicycle Safety Month because he's a bike enthusiast who learned how to ride as a child in the 1970's.
"Growing up, of course, helmets were not part of the landscape."
But bicycle head injuries were, even though it wasn't talked about much outside medical circles.
Those kind of injuries are something Elton knows a lot about. He's the head of pediatric neurosurgery at UNC Hospitals.
So he's seen plenty of bike related cases and, after 20 years in the operating room, he's also seen how helmets can make a difference.
"Because helmet use has picked up over my career, I've seen far fewer fatalities with the use of helmets," Elton said adding he's seen fewer severe head injuries with helmets.
For Beckles, however, there's a caveat.
"Really, the key is properly fitted helmet," she said.
She hopes parents will take the time to help their children learn to do that and to learn other bike rules. She said Bike Safety Month is the perfect time to do that.
Although her son's helmet couldn't save him in a collision with an SUV, it did buy some important time, according to the still grieving mother who said that extra few hours, "...allowed me and his family, our family to say goodbye."
Grieving mom uses National Bike Safety Month to urge parents to take bike safety seriously
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