Pediatric Study Finds "Epidemic" of Child Brain Injuries in ATV Accidents

Research recently presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition took a close look at the steep rise in ATV accidents among riders 16 and younger. Child injury victims represent one of every three emergency room visits that resulted from the use of these increasingly popular recreational vehicles.

Lead author Dr. Charles Jennissen, Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa, characterized the problem as a growing epidemic, noting that the number of ATVs has more than tripled in the past decade. Increased numbers are an important part of the problem, but heavier and faster machines - some that can travel faster than 80 miles per hour - must also be factored into this child safety threat.

Head injuries are the primary reason why ATV accidents are all too frequently fatal, and lack of helmet use is an important factor. But Jennissen identified several other common circumstances leading to injury:

  • Children are allowed to ride vehicles that are designed for adults only
  • Young passengers are frequently thrown from ATVs that are not designed to carry them (and they are also less likely to be provided with a helmet)
  • ATV rollovers are the most common cause of personal injury to riders

One conclusion is that manufacturers should be required to reduce seat size to discourage carrying of passengers. Jennissen also cited the importance of common sense, stressing that "children should be on an appropriate sized vehicle, be supervised at all times, never allow passengers, wear helmets and other safety gear, and never drive on public roads."

Ohio ATV regulations require drivers licenses or permits for ATV use, and younger riders must be in the company of a parent unless on private land. Statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show that 75 of the 320 ATV deaths that occurred in Ohio in recent decades took the life of a child under 16.

An alarming 20 percent of Ohio deaths occurred in the last two years of the statistical period, underscoring Dr. Jennissen's claim of an epidemic. When children suffer a personal injury or wrongful death due to another person's negligence or recklessness, an Ohio child injury attorney can help parents seek legal accountability for all responsible parties.