Risk of Child ATV Deaths Impacted By Engine Size, Lack of Helmet Use: Study
A new study indicates that children face a greater risk of being killed while riding an all-terrain vehicle if the vehicle is sized for an adult.
Nearly all fatal ATV accidents involving children happen on vehicles designed to be ridden by adults, according to researchers from the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. Their findings were published online by the medical journal Pediatrics on November 24.
Researchers looked at data provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on crash fatalities between 1985 and 2009. Out of 10,012 ATV-related fatalities, 3,240 involved victims under the age of 18. The numbers were on their way down until about 2000, when they began to increase along with the popularity of recreational ATVs.
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According to the findings, 95% of ATV deaths involving children occurred on larger ATVs designed for adult riders, as opposed to ATVs designed for younger riders. Girls were more likely to die on ATVs than boys, and the age range of 12-15 years old had the highest proportion of fatalities.
Researchers noted that most of the child deaths on ATVs involving those aged 12 and older happened on roadways, despite ATVs generally being designed for off-road use only.
The study also found that a lack of helmet use was associated with increased risk of injuries and was most often likely when a child was riding as a passenger on an ATV being driven by someone else. More than 60% of the victims overall suffered head injuries. Even when helmets were used however, more than half of the deaths involved injuries to the head which the helmet did not prevent.
Researchers found that variables among age groups in how and where they used ATVs prevents a one-size-fits all solution, with children under the age of six facing very different risks than older teens.
They recommended that states ban children under the age of 11 from riding on or operating any ATVs, and that if older children were going to ride, they need to undergo more extensive safety training and adult supervision. They also called on parents to set strict guidelines and carefully monitor rider behavior.
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