Monday, December 3, 2007

ATV Safety and Children

There was an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today regarding All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety and Children. It highlights Dr. Chetan C Shah's paper that he will be presenting later this week. Dr. Shah is a radiology fellow at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Children's Hospital. He has compiled a decade's worth of cases of injuries from ATV's involving children. He will present on Wednesday (December 5, 2007) at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago. There are 500 cases include in his study which includes children admitted to ACH with ATV related injuries going back to 1998. More than two-thirds were boys. The average age was 11.5 yr.

The youngest rider was a 6-month-old who was riding with his mother and suffered a fractured thigh bone. The youngest driver was a 2-year-old on a mini ATV who had four toes amputated. There were six deaths, not including children who died at the scenes of accidents.

  • Fractured limbs were found in 208 children--most commonly involving the legs.
  • Head injuries --85 skull fractures, 66 cases of bleeding in the brain, and 59 brain injuries.
  • Lung injuries were found in 36 children.
  • Abdominal injuries were found in 70 children. These included injuries to the spleen, liver, kidneys, or pancreas.
  • There were 12 amputations--including 9 partial foot amputation, one upper-limb amputation, and one below-the knee leg amputation.
  • There were 2 eye socket injuries that were so bad the eyes had to be removed.

Dr. Shah hopes parents will hear about the findings and stop allowing children under 16 to ride ATVs. I support this stand.

In response, an ATV-makers association said in a statement that ATVs are safe for children if the safety guidelines are followed. They include:

  • WEAR SAFETY GEAR - Wear a helmet, eye protection and other protective clothing suitable to the environment at all times. Without proper safety equipment you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Further, many of the trails require the proper use of safety equipment in order to ride. A helmet, eye protection, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long sleeve shirts and long pants are all important parts of your safety gear when riding.
  • NO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS - Do not use alcohol or other drugs when you ride. Operating an ATV while drinking or using drugs is not only unsafe, it is illegal.
  • OBEY THE LAW - Learn the ATV laws in your state and those in the areas you will be riding. Knowledge of the laws will not only help keep you safe but it may help you aviod an expensive ticket or worse.
  • OBEY THE RULES - Obey posted signs and stay on the trails. The quickest way for you to be banned from most riding areas is to fail to follow the trail rules and signs. Further, venturing from marked trails can result in a rider coming face to face with unexpected obstacles such as ditches, drop offs, cliffs, trees, etc. Not smart and not safe!
  • WATCH YOUR SPEED - Always ride at a safe and responsible speed. Know your abilities and don't exceed those levels. Riding at excessive speeds not only endangers you but others around you.
  • NO PASSENGERS - Do not carry passengers on your ATV. Most ATV's are designed for a single rider only. Carrying passengers on an ATV designed for a single rider can upset the balance of the machine and make it more likely to tip or roll over. Some of the newer ATV's are specifically designed for two riders. The wheelbase on these machines is longer. There is a reason for that, safety!
  • GET TRAINED - Do not let young or inexperienced riders operate ATVs without training and supervision. An ATV is a fun machine to ride. However, they are powerful machines and can get away from inexperienced riders just like a motorcycle or automobile can. You wouldn't let someone drive a car without first having some training. Treat an ATV with the same respect. This is especially true for children.
  • MAINTAIN A SAFE DISTANCE - Always maintain a safe distance between riders. Tailgating can lead to collisions and injuries just as it does with automobiles on the road. Give the rider in front of you some space. You never know when they will have to stop quickly or turn sharply to aviod an obstacle. This gives you time to react to the obstacle as well.
  • NEVER RIDE ALONE - Ride with others and let someone know where you are riding. Never ride alone. The same rules applies to many things you do and it should be no different when you are operating your ATV. You never know when you will need help.
  • CHECK THE WEATHER - Be informed of local weather conditions. Many of us forget that the weather has a dramatic affect on the trails we ride. Rain makes trails muddy and slick, snow hides obstacles and ice, sun causes burns and dehydration, etc. Dress and equip yourself appropriately for the weather.
  • KNOW THE AREA YOU RIDE IN - Be aware of a riding areas potential hazards. Are there hidden obstacles on the trails? How deep is that water? How steep is that hill? The better you know the terrain and trails in the area you will be riding the safer you will be. If you don't know the area, find someone who does and ride with them the first few trips. Not only will you be safer but you will learn the trails quicker.
  • CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT - Make sure your equipment is in top working order. Do the brakes work? Are my tires properly inflated? Is there any damage to the unit? Check you equipment before you go. The worst time to find out something doesn't work is when you need it.
  • CARRY A MAP - Carry a map of the trail or area you intend to travel. It is no fun to get lost. Getting lost can result in your trying to navigate areas above your skill level in an attempt to get back. If you can't get a map get a GPS. Most modern GPS's have a "track back" feature that will allow you to retrace your ride and get back to where you started.
  • RIDE THE RIGHT ATV - Most manufacturers recommend certain size ATV's for certain ages. Most manufacturers recommend an ATV less than 70cc for children under 12, a 70cc to 90cc ATV for children 12 to 16 and an ATV larger than 90cc for people over 16. An ATV that is too large for the rider can be dangerous. Smaller children do not have the strength to control the larger ATV's in difficult situations.
  • USE COMMON SENSE - If all else fails, ask yourself, should i do this? If the answer is NO or I AM NOT SURE then DON'T do it. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Stay safe to ride another day.
  • Other sources for information on topic

    ATV Safety--National AG Safety Database

    ATV Safety Crisis--Consumer Federation

    ATV Safety Tips -- Midwest Trail Riders Assoc

    All terrain vehicles guidelines aimed at saving lives -- Land Transportation NZ

    1 comment:

    supermaine said...

    Nice tips you got there. It's really important that parents guide their children while they ride on atv's. They should also have the necessary equipment to handle unforeseen accidents. An atv warn winch can be useful for raising a load. Parents should also be ready with first aid kits