More Than Half of Teen ATV Riders Get Into Accidents: Study

More than half of all teens who have driven an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) have been involved in an accident, according to the findings of new research that also suggests that teens engage in multiple types of risky behavior while riding ATVs.

In a study published in the latest issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, researchers from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine found that three out of four teenagers in that state have driven an ATV. They also found that children ages 15 and younger account for one-fifth of all ATV-related deaths, and almost 30% of ATV-related injuries.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of 4,684 youths between the ages of 11 and 16 at 30 schools across the state of Iowa, from November 2010 to April 2013.

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According to their findings, at least 75% of the teens indicated that they had been on an ATV, with more than a third riding daily or weekly. The researchers found that 57% of the teens who had been on an ATV reported having been in at least one crash, and almost all of them admitted having engaged in risky behavior.

The most common behavior considered risky was riding with a passenger, which 92% of teens who rode ATVs reported doing. In addition, 81% reported riding on public roads, which is also considered dangerous on ATVs. The researchers also found that 64% rode without a helmet.

Only 2% of teen ATV users engaged in none of those activities, and 60% of them engaged in all three at one point or another, according to the survey results.

“Brain injuries are among the leading cause of death and disability from ATV crashes,” according to the study. “They are more likely to occur on the roadway than off road, even when controlling for helmet use,” the researchers reported. “Helmets are estimated to reduce the risk of fatal ATV-related head injuries by 40% and of nonfatal head injuries by 60% or more.”

The researchers said their findings about the number of teens who had been in crashes was similar to previous studies, including one that reported that 44% of children at Connecticut agricultural fairs had been in ATV crashes, and 67% of Illinois 4-H club members.

“The likelihood and severity of ATV crashes have been shown to increase when multiple risk factors are involved,” the researchers concluded. “More than one-half of our exposed students reported engaging in all 3 unsafe behaviors.”

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