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ATV Accidents Pose Serious Risk for Children: Study

Health experts indicate that manufacturer warnings and parental supervision are doing little to keep underage drivers off of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), resulting in a disproportionate number of severe injuries among children from ATV accidents. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement last week, warning that labels placed on ATVs that indicate they are only to be used by those older than 16 are ineffective. The academy also indicated that dealer-sponsored training is infrequent and generally ignored by young drivers.

Drivers ages 16 and under make up 40% of all ATV accident injuries, AAP noted. However, less than 35% of those young people involved in such accidents were wearing helmets at the time. The AAP’s findings were presented on October 22, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

The study, “Pediatric ATV Injuries and Manufacturer Warnings are Not Enough to Change Behavior” was created through a survey of children hospitalized at a Level I trauma center after being involved in an ATV crash between 2004 and 2009. Researchers questioned 44 families about the accident, their children and the causes of the crash, as well as the features provided by the ATV and their children’s driving behavior.

They found that nearly 35% of all ATV injuries among children were to the head and neck, the largest category of injury. Second most common were bone fractures at 30.6%. Soft tissue injuries comprised 14.3% of the injuries, with chest and abdomen injuries both counting for just over 10% apiece.

The most common type of crashes were collisions, accounting for 36% of ATV accidents with children. Rollover accidents made up 32% of crashes and falling from the ATV was the cause of the injuries in 23% of the cases. In virtually all of the accidents, 82%, children under the age of 16 were driving.

The study’s authors concluded that ATVs pose significant danger for children 16 and under. They found that children just do not have the physical strength, cognitive skills, maturity or judgment to handle ATVs safely. They recommended licensing requirements, mandatory safety courses and legislation requiring helmet use as means to combat the number of child ATV injuries.

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