ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma urges safe riding for warm months ahead

Children are especially vulnerable to ATV accidents, safety experts say. 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.
BY VALLERY BROWN Published: March 20, 2013
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Kaden's story

Kaden Hedges, 12, was injured in an ATV accident in north central Oklahoma in June 2012. After only minutes of joy riding on a relative's farm, he found himself pinned beneath the machine. Luckily, a cellphone was in the ATV and he was able to call for help.

“My husband scooped him up out of the field and took him in his truck to the ER,” said Kaden's mother, Sabrina Ward.

After a night of scans and tests, doctors eventually decided to send Kaden to The Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. The accident had fractured the T9 vertebrae near the middle of his back.

Ward said she's thankful her son wasn't paralyzed. She's also changed her mind about the ATV — commonly used as a work vehicle across much of rural Oklahoma and the United States. She thinks young children must have appropriate safety training and supervision.

Kaden still has lingering effects from the accident — he can't play the close-contact sports he used to and he still has some pain. Doctors will remove a plate fusing his T8 to his T10 vertebrae in July.

Many ATV safety experts recommend anyone younger than 16 not ride adult-size ATVs. Additionally, they warn since the vehicles can easily roll or tip over, proper use and safety training is essential for all ages.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends delaying ATV use until age 16.

Safety courses are offered at many OSU Extension offices as part of an initiative bringing together OU Medical Center, The Children's Center and the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service 4-H Youth Development.

For more information about ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma, or for family and safety tips, visit www.RideSafeOK.org.

Vallery Brown is a marketing coordinator for OU Medical Center.