KNOXVILLE (WATE) – ATV injuries to children are on the rise across the United States. Tennessee is among the top 10 states for ATV fatalities, coming in at number seven. All terrain vehicles are popular, recreational vehicles marketed to children and adults. They don’t require a license to operate, so parents may be unaware of the major safety risks to children.
Dr. Shannon Cohen with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says they see an uptick of ATV injuries around this time of year. They have already treated two children. Last year, 23 children were hospitalized for ATV injuries, ranging in age from five to 13. This does not include patients who were treated and released from the emergency room.
Cohen says it is not safe for children to ride ATVs. Children’s Hospital supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under 16 should not drive an ATV and children under 14 should not even be a passenger on one. Safely operating an ATV requires quick decisions, like speeding up, slowing down or shifting weight in response to changes in the environment. Cohen says children are unlikely to respond appropriately in those situations.
She says ATVs are unstable and hard to control. They have a high center of gravity, meaning they can easily tip, throw a rider, or roll on top of a rider. Adult-sized ATVs can go over 70 miles per hour and weigh up to 600 pounds. Rollovers and crashes are common. Cohen says children lack the developmental skills to safely drive one.
Many families use ATVs for working on the family farm. If parents decide to let older children operate an ATV, Cohen recommends to take a family certification program, ride only ATVs appropriate for age and size, always wear a helmet and eye protection, and never ride on paved surfaces or public roads.
More information: ATV Safety (Consumer Product Safety Commission)