An average of 31 children receive emergency treatment every day for head and neck injuries sustained on all-terrain vehicles.
That’s according to a new study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, which found that over 25 years, nearly 280,000 children under 18 were treated at emergency departments for ATV-related head and neck injuries.
“These are very serious injuries and in fact, over 15% of the children required admission to the hospital,” said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Smith and other experts said most of these injuries are preventable, and following the safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics can help keep children safe.
“The top three things that a rider on an ATV should wear are a helmet, a helmet and a helmet,” Smith said.
Experts also stressed the importance of another precaution: stay off of roads of all types, because ATVs are designed strictly for off-road use. It’s also important for anyone operating an ATV to wear other safety gear such as goggles, gloves and closed-toe shoes, Nationwide Children’s said in a news release.
Even with the proper precautions, the study found children who aren’t old enough to drive a car shouldn’t be driving an ATV.
“Almost half of the injuries observed in the study were to children under the age of 12,” said Kris Jatana, MD, a pediatric head and neck surgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study. “These children are simply too young to safely drive an ATV, which requires advanced coordination and quick judgment to prevent crashes.”
WTOP’s Thomas Robertson contributed to this report.