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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt urges ATV riders to stay safe over Memorial Day weekend

May 24, 2012

Many all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails officially open over Memorial Day weekend. Doctors with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are urging both adults and children to stay safe this riding season. Already this week in Middle Tennessee there have been multiple ATV accidents resulting in injuries and death.

Children’s Hospital doctors report that as temperatures rise and spring turns to summer, the reported number of ATV-related injuries and deaths increase.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee, 28 fatalities occurred in the United States during the four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2010, which is an average of seven deaths a day. ATV injuries are the fourth leading cause of trauma-related admissions at Children’s Hospital. From 2007 to 2010, Children’s Hospital treated nearly 200 ATV-related injuries.

Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator at Children’s Hospital, says children are more prone to ATV injuries for several reasons, including their lack of experience operating motorized vehicles, poorly developed psychomotor control and lack of judgment that can result in risk-taking behavior and poor decision-making skills.

“ATVs, or four-wheelers, are not toys-- they are machines,” said Unni. “It is important to remember that if you and your child plan on riding four-wheelers, it’s crucial that you take the appropriate safety precautions.”

Unni says the most common causes of injuries stem from children losing control of the vehicle, riding an adult ATV, riding with a friend or behind a friend on the same ATV, or not wearing a helmet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children 16 and under should not ride ATVs. However, if parents plan to allow children to ride an ATV despite the known risk that these vehicles pose, the AAP recommends the following safety measures:

• Children riding on adult ATVs are twice as likely to be injured compared to those who ride on youth-sized ATVs. Please refer to manufacturer recommendations for the appropriate sized ATV.
• Take a hands-on safety training course. The 4-H ATV RiderCourse is an excellent opportunity to receive proper training and education.
• Always wear protective gear - especially a helmet - when riding ATVs. Wear a motorcycle or motorized sports helmet and make sure it is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Snell Memorial Foundation. Head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability related to ATV crashes.
• ATVs are meant for a single rider. They are not meant to carry passengers.
• ATVs are not meant to be driven on the road. Traveling on the road decreases the stability of the vehicle.
• Do not drive an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For more information on ATV safety, please contact Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program at (615) 936-8222, email Purnima Unni or visit the Safety Store at Children's Hospital.

Media Inquiries:
Jeremy Rush
Media Relations Manager
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Phone: 615-322-4747
Email: jeremy

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