All-terrain vehicles: the latest in injury prevention research
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 30 percent of off-road vehicle injuries and one-third of all deaths attributed to ATV use in 2005 involved children younger than 16. While head injuries accounted for most of the deaths, other serious injuries included head and spinal trauma, abdominal trauma and multiple trauma.
“Ownership of ATVs is on the rise, and it is important to emphasize that ATVs are not toys, but heavy, dangerous machinery,” said Annemarie Relyea-Chew, a researcher at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. “Generally, children younger than 16 lack the physical maturity and experience needed to drive motorized vehicles. They should not be permitted to operate ATVs.”
A ban on the use of four-wheel off-road vehicles by children under 16 has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Additional safety recommendations include:
- All riders should wear approved safety helmets, protective eyewear, and protective, reflective clothing.
- Riding double should not be permitted because injuries frequently occur to passengers.
- Children not licensed to drive a car should not be allowed to operate off-road vehicles.
“Owners and users of off-road vehicles, in particular ATVs, should take safety courses on how to properly handle these vehicles,” Relyea-Chew added. “There are many courses available, and ATV dealers have the resources to direct purchasers to appropriate materials and safety equipment.”