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FOR RELEASE: August 18 , 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

New Study Documents ATV Injuries in Oklahoma

During an 11-year period in Oklahoma, more than 350 persons were hospitalized and 62 persons were killed from injuries on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), according to a recent study published in the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association.

The study noted that from 1992 to 2002, of those persons killed while riding ATVs, 38 suffered brain injuries resulting in their deaths, and another 24 persons were killed from other types of injuries. The number of injuries doubled in 1999 and 2000 from the previous seven years and tripled in 2001 and 2002. The study used data collected by the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Injury Prevention Service.

Oklahoma’s data is similar to data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which indicated that nationally, there was more than a 100 percent increase in ATV-related injuries and deaths from 1997-2002. The CPSC also noted that per riding hour, children under 16 years of age were 54 percent more likely to be injured than persons over 16 years of age. Recreational drivers were found to be 14 times more likely to be injured than non-recreational drivers and the least experienced drivers with less than one year of driving experience were seven to eight times more likely to be injured than those with more experience. Ninety-five percent of injured children were found to be driving ATVs larger than recommended for their age.

“ATV riders should understand the substantial risks of serious or fatal injuries associated with riding ATVs,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “Parents should know that ATVs are difficult to operate, and children often do not have the cognitive and physical ability to drive these vehicles safely. In fact, compared to bike crashes, an ATV crash is six times more likely to send a child to the hospital and 12 times more likely to kill a child.”

In the Oklahoma study, children younger than 16 accounted for nearly half of the fatal and nonfatal brain injuries and nearly one-quarter of the spinal cord injuries.

ATVs can travel at highway speeds and weigh up to 600 pounds. Many studies have shown that ATVs roll over frequently. The CPSC estimates helmet use by ATV riders would reduce the risk of death by 42 percent and the risk of nonfatal head injury by 64 percent. “Based on these estimates, universal helmet use in our study would have prevented 199 nonfatal and 16 fatal brain injuries,” Crutcher said.

Public health officials offer the following recommendations to prevent ATV injuries among children:

  • Children under 6 should never ride ATVs.
  • No child under 16 should operate an adult-sized ATV under any circumstance.
  • Never carry passengers on ATVs.
  • An adult should supervise all children driving ATVs.
  • Children should never drive ATVs on public roads.
  • Always wear a helmet and goggles when riding ATVs.

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