ATV Accidents Pose a Risk of Severe Injuries For Children: Study

Children accounted for more than a third of all ATV accidents ending in severe injury, highlighting need for efforts to increase awareness about ATV risks among kids

Children face a particularly increased risk of experiencing serious and often life-threatening injuries from ATV accidents, according to researchers with the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development in Texas, who are calling for federal regulators to put more resources into raising awareness about the ATV injury risks for children.

In findings published late last month in the medical journal The BMJ, researchers sought to determine the difference in severity of injuries from ATV accidents, car crashes and motorcycle accidents, and whether any specific demographic was at a higher risk.

ATV accidents have become an increasing concern to federal safety officials, with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting that between 2016 through 2018, there were 2,211 deaths in the United States associated with off-highway vehicles, in which ATVs accounted for nearly three quarters of all fatalities.

The agency reports that of those ATV deaths, 300 reports involved children 16 years of age or younger, often due to a heightened risk of user error and inability to control the vehicles.

According to this new study, researchers from the DHR Health Orthopedic Institute of Edinburg, Texas reviewed ATV, motorcycle and automobile injuries from a Level 2 Trauma Center between January 2015 and August 2020, finding a total of 3,942 patient records meeting the criteria.

Patient records identified treatments for 3,626 auto accidents, 200 motorcycles accidents and 116 ATV injuries between the study timeframe.

Although pediatric patients only accounted for 12.13% of study participants, researchers found the rate of shock trauma center stays accounted for a statistically large portion of the study population. Specifically, pediatric patients accounted for 37.93% of the ATV injures, 11.58% of the auto injuries and 7% of the motorcycle injuries. A total of 29 patients died due to all types of vehicle injuries.

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The data further found males accounted for 51.55% of the study population and female patients made up the remaining 48.45% of patients, with Hispanic being the most commonly reported race. Researchers determined patients with no drug use during injury, and those who used protective equipment, like seat belts, were associated with significantly less severe injuries.

Overall, children riding ATVs were most likely to suffer a serious injury requiring a stay in a trauma center when compared to motorcycle and car accident injuries. Researchers concluded the findings support the need for public awareness campaigns to educate the population, especially youth, about the dangers of ATV use.

ATV Risks for Teenagers and Adolescents

ATVs and other recreational vehicles are designed to be driven only on off-road terrains, and not paved surfaces. Often, ATV’s are unstable and difficult to control when driven on paved surfaces due to wheel and shock designs meant to absorb rougher terrains. These vehicles regularly pose a tip-over hazard when making turns at increased speeds.

In August 2020, CPSC officials released an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) warning, indicating that children under 16 years of age are at the highest risk of injury or death from ATV-related accidents, often due to incorrect ATV sizing or from colliding with other vehicles on roadways.

According to the data from the report, more than 81,800 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries were reported in 2018 alone, with at least 17% of these injuries resulting in hospital admission. The most common injuries found among ATV-related emergency department visits were contusions, abrasions, or fractures to the arm, head or neck, leg, and torso.

Of the 81,800 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries, an estimated 26% involved children younger than 16 years of age, the highest of any group.


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