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MUSC, experts agree: ATVs too
view an ATV ride as an entertaining and fun family past-time. It’s not
uncommon to see the all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or four-wheelers, ridden
by children racing through local wilderness or suburban neighbor-hoods.
With the increase in ATV popularity, a rise in trips to the emergency
room has followed. MUSC pediatric emergency specialists and community
safety experts have taken an official stance on ATVs, asking that
parents park the vehicles forever when it comes to the health and
safety of their children.
“Children lack the strength, coordination, and judgment to operate ATVs
safely,” said Children’s Hospital trauma coordinator Melanie Stroud,
R.N. “For this reason, children have experienced rollover injuries in
which they are crushed and trapped under the ATV. The result is
devastating injuries, including crushed internal organs and multiple
broken bones.” In the worst cases, children have died as a result of
their injuries, she added.
During December 2007, Children’s Hospital cared for seven children with
injuries related to ATV use, three of whom were severely injured. Those
in the Pediatric Emergency Department say that number is seven too many.
“Injuries are the leading cause of death in children 1 to 18 years of
age. Research shows that injuries to children from ATVs are increasing
in number every year,” said Joseph Losek, M.D., Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Emergency Medicine director.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that more than 2,000
children were killed in ATV crashes from 1982 to 2004. An estimated
45,000 are treated in emergency departments for ATV-related injuries
each year. AAP emphasizes that injuries sustained by children riding an
adult-sized ATV, including severe brain, spinal, abdominal, and
complicated orthopaedic injuries often are very serious.
Along with Safe Kids Trident Area Coalition (part of Safe Kids
Worldwide), AAP urges that children under 16 not be allowed on ATVs.
“If you’re not old enough to drive a car on a paved road with traffic
control devices, you’re certainly not old enough to drive a powerful
open-seat vehicle at high speeds over dirt trails and wild terrain,”
said Safe Kids Trident Area coordinator Kristin Wedding. “ATVs are very
dangerous to children no matter what precautions you take. You could
wear a helmet when you jump out a window, but that would not make it a
If parents continue to let their children operate ATVs, the following
measures should be taken to minimize injury:
- Parents and children should attend an ATV driver’s safety
- Constant adult supervision when children are on an ATV
- Never let a child carry passengers, especially since ATVs
are built for one rider
- Do not use ATVs on the streets or at night
- Always wear an approved helmet with eye protection
- Wear non-skid, closed toe shoes
- Wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt.
Friday, Feb. 8, 2008
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