While deaths and injuries have declined in recent years, children and young teens continue to be hurt and killed while riding all-terrain vehicles, according to a new Consumer Product Safety Commission report.
With the arrival of spring break and warm months ahead, physicians and safety experts with ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma want to make sure families know the risks associated with ATVs.
In 2011, the most recent year available in the report, of the nearly 60 deaths of children under 16, about half were younger than 12. Nearly 3,000 children have died in ATV accidents during the more than 30 years data has been collected. More than 40 percent of those who died were under 12.
Dr. Jason Lees, a trauma surgeon at OU Medical Center, said injuries from ATV accidents are common.
“Drivers of ATVs are much less protected than they are in cars,” he said. “These machines weigh a lot and travel at high speeds, so they can be very dangerous.”
By the numbers
Data in the report show injuries have decreased in recent years, but in 2011 there were nearly 110,000 ATV-related injuries treated in emergency rooms across the United States. Nearly 30 percent of those injured were younger than 16.
At The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, more than 30 children under 15 have been treated for ATV-related injuries since August 2011. Often, injuries take months or even years of recovery and rehabilitation. Some children never fully recover.
Dr. Justin Ramsey, a pediatric physiatrist at The Children's Center in Bethany, said young children are particularly at risk when driving ATVs because their decision-making and motor skills are still developing.
“The most significant injuries are the traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries,” he said. “They have a life-changing impact for the victim and their family when it comes to rehabilitation."