MUSC, Experts Agree: ATVs Too Dangerous for Children


Contact: Heather Woolwine


Jan. 16, 2008

MUSC, Experts Agree: ATVs Too Dangerous for Children

Number of severe injuries involving ATVs on the rise

CHARLESTON -- Some parents view an ATV ride as an entertaining and fun family past-time. It's not uncommon to see ATVs (all-terrain vehicle, or four-wheelers), ridden by children, racing through local wilderness or suburban neighborhoods.

With the increase in ATV popularity, a rise in trips to the emergency room has followed. Medical University of South Carolina (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 MUSC Children's Hospital trauma coordinator Melanie Stroud. "For this reason children often have rollover injuries and 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.

During December 2007, MUSC Children's Hospital cared for seven children with injuries related to ATVs, three of whom were severely injured. According to those in the MUSC Pediatric Emergency Department, that number is seven too many. "Injuries are the leading cause of death in children one to 18 years of age. Research shows that injuries to children from ATVs are increasing in number every year," said Joseph Losek, M.D., MUSC Children's Hospital Pediatric Emergency Medicine director.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported more than 2,000 children 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 are often very serious, including severe brain, spinal, abdominal, and complicated orthopedic injuries. Along with Safe Kids Trident Area Coalition (part of Safe Kids Worldwide), AAP strongly recommends that children under 16 should 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 safe activity." 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 drivers? safety course

•Constant adult supervision when children are on an ATV

•Never let a child carry passengers (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

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 10,000 employees, including 1,300 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.3 billion. MUSC operates a 600-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or