PhotoLast August, we reported on Consumer Federation of America (CFA) findings which showed that off-road vehicle deaths were up 10% year-over-year. Advocates pointed to the use of “off-highway vehicles” (OHVs) on roadways as a major factor in the uptick.

While taking ATVs and other such vehicles on busy streets is certainly dangerous, a new study suggests that the age of riders may be an even bigger risk factor. Researchers from Wake Forest say that young children who ride ATVs are especially susceptible to severe injury.

“The injuries children sustain from ATV-related accidents are frequently more severe than injuries received from motor vehicle crashes,” says lead author Dr. Thomas Pranikoff.

Many crash victims under 16

Pranikoff and his colleagues analyzed data from 16 published studies conducted between 2000 and 2010 on the causes and risk factors of ATV-related injuries for American children, as well as the most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The information showed that nearly 100,000 ATV-related injuries that occurred during the period were serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit. Of that number, around 25% of the crash victims were under the age of 16.

And, perhaps more worrying, were the statistics related to fatal injuries. The researchers found that as more powerful ATVs were released on the market, more accidents involving rollovers, collision with stationary objects, and ejection from the vehicle occurred. The underuse of safety equipment also contributed to the uptick in injuries, the researchers said.

New approach needed

Pranikoff explains that current legislation and programs to reduce ATV injury rates have been largely ineffective, and that coming up with a new approach to reach young riders will be vital going forward.

"As ATV use continues to rise in the United States with bigger and faster machines becoming more prominent, research to define effective means of changing ATV-riding behaviors in children, whether implemented in hospital, school or other settings, will be crucial in reducing pediatric injury and death," he said.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.


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