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Pediatrician Group Calls for Mandatory Training for Young ATV Riders

A new study shows that OEM warning labels deterring riders under the age of 16 are not enough to reduce the risk of injury. The study finds that less than 35 percent of children involved in ATV crashes wear helmets, and nearly 60 percent are riding again within six months.

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A national pediatrician group is calling for mandatory training for new or young ATV riders, in hopes of combating injuries from the vehicles.

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Although ATV manufacturers warn that the adult-sized vehicles are not suitable for riders under the age of 16, this does little to deter children from riding, according to a new study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

Of all children involved in ATV crashes, less than 35 percent were wearing a helmet at the time of injury, and nearly 60 percent are back on the road again within six months, according to the study, "Pediatric ATV Injuries and Manufacturer Warnings are Not Enough to Change Behavior."

Survey subjects were children who were hospitalized at a Level I trauma center following an ATV crash between 2004 and 2009. Families were asked questions about their child’s injuries, factors related to the crash, ATV features, and risk and safety behaviors.

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The study found that in 82 percent of the cases, the children were driving the ATV when the crash occurred, and 61 percent of the respondents acknowledged the warning label on their ATV against riders under the age of 16. Most injuries occurred  in the head and neck (34.7 percent) and resulted from collisions (36 percent). A majority of the children had permission to ride the ATV and were under adult supervision at the time of the accident.

Children under the age of 16 suffer nearly 40 percent of all ATV-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. annually. Study author Dr. Rebeccah L. Brown of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center believes that mandatory safety courses and licensing, as well as enforceable helmet legislation, will reduce ATV injuries among children.

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"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," she said. "ATV manufacturer warning labels are largely ineffective, and ATV training is infrequently offered to ATV users, most of whom deem it unnecessary."

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