June 4, 2007 – Health care target ATV youth safety

A $5 billion-$8 billion public service advertising campaign is under way across the nation that includes a focus on the dangers of children using ATVs.
The Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) have developed the ads to help reduce the numbers of injuries and deaths, particularly among young people, as a result of driving or riding on an ATV, says Dr. Jeffrey Sawyer, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for the AAOS.
“We consider ATVs to be a significant public health risk,” Sawyer said. “Our general sense is that during the past 10 years, the number of injuries children are receiving in ATV-related accidents is increasing.”
Doctors, including Sawyer, at LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center (LBCMC) in Memphis, reviewed and compiled two years of their own experience at the Level 1 regional pediatric trauma center to determine injury patterns related to ATV use. According to the study, the trauma center saw 96 pediatric patients from Jan. 1, 2004, through June 30, 2006, with ATV-related injuries.
“The main problem we see is a lack of parental supervision, not enough rider education and inadequate protective gear,” Sawyer said.
The ATV industry believes providing more training for young riders and reducing the size of the vehicles will help prevent injuries. A draft of Safety Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) standards include specifications for a new category of ATVs with the intent of providing machines that appeal to younger riders so youths will ride appropriately-sized machines, rather than full-size adult machines.
“What we see from a safety perspective is kids operating adult-sized ATVs,” said Tom Yager, SVIA’s vice president of safety programs, in the April edition of Powersports Business.
The SVIA specifications for “transitional” models, includes a slightly downsized ATV for riders 14 years of age or older with a maximum speed of 38 mph, and a youth-model ATV for children 10 years of age or older with a top speed of 30 mph.
“I realize the industry is trying to make ATVs for kids, but the question still remains: ‘Why does a 7-year-old need to be riding an ATV in the first place?’” Sawyer asked. “It’s not uncommon for us to see at least one or two deaths a summer related to ATV use — and that’s devastating,” he said. “I personally invite the opportunity to work with the ATV industry on ways to better educate people and prevent ATV injuries in children.”

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