ATV Accident Deaths Up Among Children

An emerging study has found that hospitalizations for accidents linked to<""> all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have increased substantially—150 percent—from 1987 to 2006 in children under the age of 18, said Bloomberg Business Week.

Most significantly, the highest increases took place in the South and Midwest areas of the United States in teenagers in the 15-to-17-year-old age range, noted Bloomberg Business Week. While males in this group saw the highest rate of hospitalizations related to ATV accidents, females saw the deepest increase—250 percent—in ATV hospitalizations in the time frame studied, reported Bloomberg Business Week.

“All-terrain vehicles are inherently dangerous to children,” lead author Stephen M. Bowman, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a Hopkins release, quoted Bloomberg Business News.

“While manufacturers are required to label vehicles with engine sizes greater than 90cc as inappropriate for children younger than 16, our data indicate that a growing number of children are receiving serious injuries due to ATV use, suggesting that parents are unaware of these recommendations or are choosing to ignore them,” he added, reported Bloomberg Business News.

The research also revealed that hospitalizations rates for ATV-related moderate to severe traumatic brain injury tripled during the study period, said Bloomberg Business News. “In our study, 30 percent of patients hospitalized for ATV-related injuries had a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury,” Bowman said, quoted Bloomberg Business News. “Increasing helmet use through a combination of policy and education is critical to curbing the increasing trend in ATV-related hospitalizations among children.”

The researchers are urging public health officials, the ATV industry, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to work through the growing problem, said Bloomberg Business News, which noted that this study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Trauma.

We have previously written that consumer groups have said that the hazards from ATVs continue to increase and that, for nearly a decade, serious injuries caused by ATVs are on the rise. Children under age 16 continuing to suffer most of those injuries, according to a report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Worse, estimated deaths on ATVs also increased.

Of note, in August 2006, CPSC denied a petition filed over six years ago by consumer and health groups demanding action on ATVs. Instead, the CPSC pursued a rulemaking for ATV standards. On August 14, 2008, former President Bush signed into the law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that included a provision focused on ATVs that primarily protected the economic interests of the largest ATV manufacturers.

The transitional vehicle is of particular concern to consumer and public health advocates as these ATVs are expected to contain engines even larger than those currently recommended for children under 16. The CPSC, the ATV industry, the Consumer Federation of America, and many other consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 ccs.

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