Riding All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) on back country trails and wide open deserts can be great fun for families.
But ask any emergency room doctor around the Valley about preventable childhood injury, and the accidents that can happen while riding these four-wheeled motorized vehicles will top the list.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that unintentional injuries from ATVs are becoming a major public health problem, especially among children under age 17.
They report that between 2003 and 2008, the rate of deaths from ATV accidents increased by 89%. In 2007, 1,223 Arizona children were hospitalized or visited an emergency room for non-fatal ATV injuries.
Nine children died –six of whom were not wearing helmets.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 16 years should not be allowed to operate ATVs.
How do you know if your child is ready?
Phoenix Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Specialist Susan Bookspan says that parents should take a good look at whether a child has developed proper decision-making skills, eye-hand coordination, and strength before they are permitted to operate an ATV.
ATV Safety Tips
- Follow minimum age recommendations on the ATV warning label.
- If you chose to allow children to ride on an ATV, only allow them to do so with adult supervision.
- Make sure that the child wears a helmet, protective clothing and eyewear.
- Do not allow children to ride double as most ATVs are designed for only one rider.
- Only ride off-road as ATVs are less stable on paved roads.
- Children should never ride adult-sized ATVs because they cannot properly reach the throttle, gear shift or brakes.
- Plan your trip. Carry identification, know the route, and check the designated trail for hazards.
- Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
- Take an ATV Riders Safety Course through the Arizona State Parks or the ATV Safety Institute.
Source: Phoenix Children’s Hospital