ATV Accidents on the Rise
ATV Accident Lawyers
With the weather getting a bit nicer we frequently report on accidents involving all terrain vehicles of ATVs and children. Generally the news is not good. Children tend to be the most injured from these vehicles, often used in the country and on back roads for lots of fun. Two new studies finds that severe injuries, including spinal injuries, amputations and deaths, occur among children on ATVs. The findings were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans. A spinal injury can bring a lifetime of devastation for a young person as can an amputation. Typically an ATV injury results in the amputation of legs, fingers and toes, as the youngster reaches out to try and protect themselves from a toppling ATV.
“ATV (all-terrain vehicle) injuries have been significant; we’ve been noticing increases for a while,” said Dr. Mike Gittelman, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics in the division of emergency medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The numbers on ATV injuries just keep getting worse. Researchers find that ATV fatalities increased nearly 60 % between 2000 and 2005. Injuries rose 48%.
Years ago it was three- wheel ATVs that caused injuries among young riders. Then the industry went to four-wheel varieties. But with the changes have not come enough safety improvements.
For one, ATVs have a high center of gravity and tip easily, some at speeds as slow as 15 mph. It is just instinct for a teen to put his arm or leg out to try and brace himself when it tips over.
The researchers looked at emergency room records in California for young victims of ATVs from January 2005 through 2007. In all, there were about 110 patients. What they found that was when there was more than one rider on the ATV; they were about ten times as likely to suffer an amputation as people with just one rider.
“It’s night and day. If you get injured on one of these it’s going to be bad,” said study author Dr. Gregg Wendell Schellack, an orthopedic surgery resident at Loma Linda University Medical Center, who races motocross and dirt bikes, reports Business Week.
In the second study, researchers found that close to 4,500 children in the U.S. were injured in accidents in ATVs in 2006, and among them 7.4% sustained a spinal injury. Since 1997, that represents a jump of at least 140% and a 467% increase in spinal injuries. And what is surprising is that 70% of the injuries to the spine are occurring in children under 16. Girls are especially vulnerable, more so than boys.
Even kids participating in motocross, a two-wheeled version of the off-road sport had severe injuries, report researchers from a third study, even though they had been wearing helmets and protective gear. Half the children going to the ER were hospitalized and one-third needed surgery.
It is not just a coincidence that the number of injuries has increased with the number of new vehicles on the back roads. In 1985 for example, there were about 400,000 ATVs. Today in the U.S. researchers say there are about 9.2 million. And the machines are heavier, and can go faster, some as high as 100 mph.
Bottom line- even though they are fun, researchers conclude that children should not be riding ATVs. Why let a young child or teen maneuver a vehicle when he or she is not even old enough to safety drive a car?