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FOR RELEASE: January 26, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

ATV Regulation Proposed to Protect Children

A bill designed to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to children and teens riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Oklahoma was unveiled today at a news conference at the State Capitol.

State Sen. Bernest Cain introduced The Children’s ATV Safety Act, which would not allow children under the age of 12 to ride on an ATV and would require that all ATV riders under the age of 18 wear a helmet.

The bill was prompted by a study published in the May 2005 Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association which reviewed ATV-related traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries and deaths in Oklahoma for an 11-year period, from 1992 through 2002. The study found that almost 400 people received a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, including children as young as 3 years old. Sixty-two persons were killed while riding on ATVs for that time period, and of that number, 38 had a traumatic brain injury. Of those persons, almost half were children under 16 years of age.

The study also found that the number of injuries tripled over the 11-year time period, from an average of 23 per year before 1998, to an average of 69 per year in 2001 and 2002. Of those persons who were injured while riding an ATV, only six percent were wearing a helmet. No one wearing a helmet died.

ATVs can weigh up to 600 pounds and travel at highway speeds. While ATVs serve useful purposes for recreation and doing work on Oklahoma’s farms and ranches, their use by children can result in devastating outcomes. The most common ATV
injuries result from falls from the vehicle, collisions with a stationary object, and rollovers. Persons at highest risk of injury include riders under 16 years old, males, riders of 3-wheelers, inexperienced riders and riders of ATVs with larger engine size.
Statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the average lifetime cost for each survivor hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury is almost a half million dollars. Injury prevention experts note that wearing helmets while riding ATVs can reduce deaths by 42 percent and nonfatal head injuries by 64 percent.
Several states have already initiated ATV child safety laws. At least 23 states require riders to wear helmets and 28 states have some type of minimum age requirement for riders on ATVs. Some states prohibit passengers and several states require some type of safety education. States without any ATV safety legislation have a collective death rate twice that of states with any safety legislation.

A number of organizations and individuals have already agreed to endorse The Children’s ATV Safety Act including the: Oklahoma State Department of Health, Safe Kids Oklahoma, Oklahoma Chapter of the American Trauma Society, Regional Trauma Advisory Boards, Oklahoma City Regional Trauma Advisory Board, Vinita Police Department, Oklahoma Hospital Association, Child Death Review Board, OU Physicians, OU Children’s Physicians Group, OU Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma Chapter of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, AAA Oklahoma, Northwest District Osteopathic Society, EMSA, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Carter County Safe Kids, and Oklahoma Blood Institute physicians Jean Forsberg, MD, Ronald O. Gilcher, MD, and James Smith, MD, PhD.

For more information about ATV safety in Oklahoma, visit this Web site: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/injury/ATV/index.html.

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