Dayton Children's and Safe Kids Greater Dayton warn parents about the hazards of young children riding ATV's
06-29-2009 (Dayton, OH) -
While ATVs are part of daily life for many across the United States, whether for recreation or an occupation, Safe Kids Greater Dayton recommends that children younger than age 16 should never ride on, or operate, ATVs of any size - including youth-sized ATVs.
"ATVs are inherently difficult to operate, and children do not have the cognitive and physical abilities to drive or ride these vehicles safely," said Lisa Schwing, trauma program manager at Dayton Children's and a member of Safe Kids Greater Dayton.
"If you're not old enough to drive a car with safety belts on a paved road with traffic control devices, you're certainly not old enough to drive a powerful open-seat vehicle at speeds up to 70 miles per hour over rough terrain."
From 2003 to 2006, 87 Ohio children were killed due to ATV- related accidents and according to The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Ohio is ranked 12th in ATV- related deaths.
According to The Regional Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children's, 13 children were treated for severe injuries sustained by riding ATVs in 2008.
Nationwide, approximately 130 children younger than age of 16 die each year as a result of ATV-related injuries, and an estimated 40,000 children younger than the age 16 are seriously injured each year in ATV-related incidents. While a helmet can reduce the risk of severe head injuries, there is no safety devices that adequately protects against other injuries commonly sustained while riding ATVs.
The number of ATV-related injuries per year more than doubled between 1993 and 2006. In 2007, children accounted for one out of four ATV-related injuries. Beginning in 1998, the ATV industry observed voluntary guidelines restricting the sale of adult-sized ATVs (with engines bigger than 90 cc) for use by children younger than age 16, but compliance testing from the CPSC showed numerous instances of noncompliance with the voluntary standard.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, signed into law in 2008, made the voluntary standard mandatory as of April 2009. The new law prohibits companies from recommending, marketing, or selling new adult-sized ATVs for use by persons younger than the age 16. The law uses maximum speed, rather than engine size, for determining the age-appropriateness of ATVs and requires that new ATVs include labels and hangtags with certain safety information, including age recommendations. However, the law still permits the manufacture of youth-sized ATVs, which pose inherent safety risks.
"Previous efforts to make ATVs safer for kids have proved inadequate and have not kept children out of the emergency room," said Schwing. "Children can be seriously injured even on ATVs manufactured and marketed for kids."
Rollovers, collisions and ejections involving ATVs can cause instant fatal head injuries as well as serious nonfatal injuries to the head, spinal cord and abdomen. A child riding an ATV is four times more likely to be seriously injured than a rider older than the age of 16.
"We know it's not the advice a lot of parents want to hear, especially if ATVs are commonly used by friends and family, but it's the conclusion we've drawn from extensive and ongoing review of the data," said Schwing. "If you want our opinion as safety experts, there is simply no way to make ATV riding a safe activity for children."
For more information about ATVs and outdoor recreation safety, call Safe Kids Greater Dayton at 937-641-3385 or visit www.usa.safekids.org.
About Safe Kids Greater Dayton
Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Greater Dayton was founded in 1994 and is led by The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more information log on to www.childrensdayton.org/cms/safekids.
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