ATV Injuries Among Children Raise Call for Mandatory Safety Courses and Helmet Legislation

Monday, October 22, 2012

Despite national policy statements and consumer safety warnings against all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use by children 16 and under, ATV-related injuries in this population continue unabated.

A new study shows that even after serious ATV-related injuries, teens and preteens continue to ride ATVs and carry other passengers.

“Although ATVs have surged in popularity over the past several years, they pose significant dangers for children 16 and under who simply do not have the physical strength, cognitive skills, maturity or judgment to safely operate ATVs,” says Rebeccah L. Brown, MD, associate director of Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s main author. “These are hefty motorized vehicles that weight up to 600 pounds and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 85 miles per hour.”

The study will be presented Oct. 22 at the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics National Convention and Exhibition in New Orleans, La.

From 1982 to 2010, there were more than 11,000 ATV-related fatalities, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Children under 16 accounted for one of every four deaths. Forty-three percent of these under-16 deaths were children under the age of 12. The CPSC also estimates more than 28,000 emergency visits for pediatric ATV injuries.

Brown, a pediatric surgeon, and colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s studied children 16 and under admitted to the Cincinnati Children’s Level 1 Trauma Center due to ATV injuries sustained over a five-year period:

  • About 60 percent of children injured in an ATV crash continued to ride
  • Children sustained multiple, serious injuries, with 23 percent requiring care in the intensive care unit and 48 percent requiring surgical intervention.
  • Only 40 percent of children reported wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Of those who didn’t wear helmets, 67 percent sustained significant head and neck injuries.
  • More than 60 percent acknowledged the presence of a label on the ATV warning against operation by children 16 and under and against carrying passengers.
  • Not a single child injured underwent formal training for safe ATV operation. Only five were offered free training by the ATV dealer. All five declined.

“ATV manufacturer warning labels are largely ineffective, and ATV training is infrequently offered to most ATV users,” says Brown. “Mandatory safety courses and licensing, and enforceable helmet legislation, are needed to reduce ATV use by children.”

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is third in the nation in U.S.News and World Report’s 2012 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for neonatology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656