ATV Accidents Sent 360K Children to ER Over Past Decade: Study
Children riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are at greater risk of suffering serious and potentially life-threatening injuries when compared to adult riders, according to the findings of a new study that indicates more than 360,000 children under the age of 15 have been injured or hospitalized over the past ten years after riding ATVs.
In a study published online by the medical journal Pediatrics on July 1, researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention identified a staggering number of child ATV injuries, but indicated that there has been an overall decline over the past ten years.
After reviewing data from 66 emergency rooms across the United States, the study suggested that approximately 50 injuries per 100,000 children occurred in 2001. That number peaked at 67 injuries per 100,000 children in 2004, but then dropped to 42 injuries per 100,000 kids in 2010.
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Overall boys were twice as likely to be injured than girls. Injuries in children ages 11 to 15 accounted for two-thirds of all emergency room visits and hospitalizations, the highest rates of any age group.
Broken bones and fractures accounted for more than one quarter of the injuries seen in the emergency rooms. The majority of the children were treated and released, however some kids were hurt so badly they required hospitalization. To that end, children are twice as likely to be hospitalized if they were injured riding an ATV than if they were injured during a car accident.
Researchers say much of the problem stems from allowing children who are not yet legally able to drive a car to operate an ATV. Children riding adult sized ATVs are offered much less protection without adequate safety training. Riding an adult sized ATV can pose significant risk to a child. The vehicle is much larger, heavier and often harder to maneuver. Life threatening injuries can occur if an ATV lands on a child.
The team of CDC researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program to review emergency room visits resulting from ATV accidents during 2001 through 2010. The data examined did not include children who were seen at clinics or in non-hospital emergency care facilities.
Researchers speculate the decline in injury rates may be related to the economic downturn, which occurred during the latter part of the decade. Rising costs of gas and increased financial burdens may have resulted in fewer children riding.
The decline corresponded to a March report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which found a decline in ATV injuries among all riders from 2010 to 2011. A total of 57 children under the age of 16 were killed in 2011 in ATV related crashes. Researchers say the decline may also be linked to increased safety practices or certain state regulations governing children’s use of ATV’s, but the correlation is unclear.
Experts recommend children riding ATVs always wear a safety helmet and avoid riding as a passenger, ATV’s are designed to accommodate only one rider. Riding on paved roads can also prove to be very dangerous which make ATV’s more prone to tipping. They also warn against children using adult sized vehicles which may be too large for them to control.
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