Multiple Riders, No Helmet and Faster ATVs Contribute to Child Injuries
Rollovers are the most common cause of ATV-related injuries and head injuries are the leading cause of death for ATV riders as less than 20 percent wear helmets, according to new research.
Children make up about a third of the 130,000 to 150,000 all-terrain vehicle or ATV-related emergency department visits each year and a fourth of the more than 800 deaths. More children are actually injured from ATV crashes than from bicycles each year.
In a new study, researchers reviewed ATV injury data at the University of Iowa from 2002 to 2009. Of the 345 injury cases reviewed, 80 percent involved males, and 30 percent were 16-years-old or younger. Less than 20 percent of the riders wore helmets, with drivers more likely than their passengers to wear helmets, and children more likely than adults.
Rollovers were the most common cause of injury, accounting for 42 percent of injury-causing crashes. For patients over 15 who were tested, 35 percent were positive for alcohol and 25 percent for drugs. Head injuries are the leading cause of ATV-related death.
All children treated for ATV injuries had been driving adult sized-ATVs, said Dr. Charles A. Jennissen, lead author of the study.
“The epidemic of ATV-related injuries can be attributed, at least in part, to the vehicles’ increasing popularity,” said Dr. Jennissen, in a news release, noting the number of ATVs in the U.S. has tripled to 10.2 million, more than triple the number from the previous decade.
A major factor in the booming sales has been the production of larger and faster machines, Dr. Jennissen said, noting that some now go up to 80 miles per hour.
While most ATVs are designed for adults, children are often allowed to drive them and typically do so without wearing a helmet or riding with passengers.
In a separate study, Dr. Jennissen looked at the potential outcome of shortening ATV seats, which are typically long enough to seat an additional passenger, particularly a child.
“We suggest a shorter seat,” said Dr. Jennissen, “starting further from the handlebar attachment. That is the preferred ATV seat design.”
This type of design would discourage multiple passenger use on ATVs by reducing the space available for extra riders, which would help decrease the number of ATV injuries.
Safety Tips for ATV Riders:
- Always wear a helmet
- Only one person at a time
- Ride the right size machine
- Always wear your protective gear
- Take a safety course
- Never ride on the road
- Tell someone where you are going
- Respect private property
- Never use alcohol or drugs
- Always obey the rules
For more on child safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach child injury attorney.