Pediatricians underscore the importance of following safety rules and recommend that no one under age 16 should operate or ride an ATV
ITASCA, Ill. -- Preventing pediatric all-terrain-vehicle-related deaths and injuries has proved difficult and has had limited success. A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics provides detailed recommendations designed to provide strategies that can be used to reduce the number of pediatric deaths and injuries resulting from youth riding on ATVs. The policy statement and an accompanying technical report, “American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations for the Prevention of Pediatric ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries,” will be published in the October 2022 issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 26).
All-terrain vehicles were introduced in the mid-1970s, and regulatory agencies, injury prevention researchers, and pediatricians have documented their dangers to youth. Major risk factors, crash mechanisms, and injury patterns for children and adolescents have been well documented. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 1982-2015 shows that ATV crashes have killed more than 3,000 children younger than 16 years of age and required emergency department visits for nearly a million more.
More than 90% of deaths and injuries among ATV riders younger than 16 have occurred when they were on adult-size vehicles. Child development research suggests that youth do not have the physical, mental, and cognitive maturity to operate ATVs safely, and this is especially true for the larger, heavier adult ATV models.
Unfortunately, many parents and other caregivers have failed to recognize and/or acknowledge the risk and heed the warnings, putting children and teenagers at significant and unnecessary risk of serious injury and death, the authors note.
“The AAP continues to recommend that no one under age 16 operate or ride an ATV,” said Charles A. Jennissen, MD, FAAP, lead author of the statement, written by the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. “This is the most effective way to protect children from ATV-related injury and death. However, we know that many parents are not following this primary recommendation so it is imperative that parents ensure their adolescents understand and follow the safety rules including staying off public roads, never riding at night, never riding with passengers, always wearing a helmet, and riding a youth ATV appropriate for their age and size.”
Pediatricians and other stakeholders should advocate for legislative changes that promote ATV safety, the policy urges. State, county, and local laws and ordinances that encourage unsafe riding behaviors, such as allowing recreational ATV riding on public roadways, should be repealed.
For parents, more information is on HealthyChildren.org here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.