Kids can’t get a license to drive a car until they are 16 years old in most states. But no law stops them from hopping on an all-terrain vehicle and traveling at highway speeds without a helmet, seat belt or protective clothing.
ATV dealers allow it. Parents permit it. And kids who are too young to know better are paying the price.
On Monday, Cincinnati Children’s associate director of Trauma Services, Dr. Rebeccah Brown, released sobering statistics on ATV-related injuries involving kids under 16 based on a five-year study of patients admitted to the hospital’s Level I Trauma Center after an accident.
*In 80 percent of the cases, children were the ones driving when the ATV accident happened, even though more than half of the parents acknowledged seeing a label warning against the operation of the ATV by children under age 16.
*Less than 40 percent of kids injured were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash
*Two-thirds were under adult supervision at the time of the accident
*Nearly 60 percent of children continued riding an ATV after recovering from their injury
*None of the parents received formal course training for safe ATV operation, but almost half said a relative or friend taught them how to operate the ATV.
Based on the findings, Dr. Brown issued a call for mandatory safety courses and licensing, and enforceable helmet legislation to reduce ATV use by children.
“Manufacturer warning labels are ineffective and dealer training is rarely offered to ATV users. When it is, most young people dismiss it as unnecessary,” Brown says, pointing back to data gathered in the hospital’s study. “These motorized vehicles weigh up to 600 pounds and can reach speeds of up to 85 miles per hour. Children 16 and under simply don’t have the physical strength, cognitive skills, maturity or judgment to operate an ATV safely.”
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children under 16 account for nearly 40 percent of all ATV-related injuries and deaths in our country each year.