Uptick in Youth ATV Accidents in Louisiana Prompt Safety Programs

March 31, 2009

Serious injuries and deaths of children involved in all-terrain vehicle accidents are a growing problem in Louisiana, according to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital personnel.

In response to this concern, Our Lady of the Lake received a $33,419 grant from Kohl’s department store to do ATV safety programs in schools and around the community in Lafayette and Baton Rouge, said Karen Ahmad, an injury prevention nurse for OLOL and the Safety Council of Baton Rouge.

All-terrain vehicles should be considered the equivalent of any motorized vehicle and not treated like a toy, Ahmad said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that no child under 16 should ride on or operate an all-terrain vehicle.

However, the ATV Safety Institute, which is funded by leading manufacturers of the vehicles, says a child should ride on an ATV that is age appropriate.

The problem is that not even the industry’s more liberal guidelines are being followed, Ahmad said.

The following are among the safety tips offered by Ahmad and the ATV Safety Institute:

-Only allow children to operate age-appropriate ATVs, and no child under age 6 should ever ride on one. That means a child should not be operating his or her parent’s ATV.
-Most ATVs are built only for one person, so children should not take on passengers or be passengers.
-Never ride an ATV on a paved surface. The low-pressure tires of ATVs are not designed for pavement, which affects performance and control.
-Always wear a properly fitting helmet. About 30 percent of ATV wrecks cause head injuries, and head injuries are the main cause of death and life-long disabilities in ATV accidents.
-Always supervise children under age 16 riding ATVs.
-Take a class on operating ATVs because one class is estimated to be equal to one year of experience. The classes are offered free of charge when purchasing an ATV from a reputable dealer or cost about $75.

Information from: The Advocate, www.2theadvocate.com

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