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FOR RELEASE: March 14, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Study Shows 14 Top Oklahoma Cities For Traumatic ATV Injuries

In a report released today by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Trauma Registry, 14 Oklahoma cities were identified as having the greatest number of All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) injuries in Oklahoma from January 2002 to June 2006. Of the 1,580 cases identified as ATV-related injuries on the Trauma Registry and Emergency Medical Services databases, Waynoka was recognized as the city with the most ATV-related injuries at 144. Waynoka is the site of the Little Sahara State Park used by many ATV riders.

Other cities reporting a high number of ATV-related injuries were: Ponca City (17), Stigler (16), McAlester (15), Oklahoma City (15), Altus (13), and Ada, Atoka and Stillwell with 12 each. Cities that tied with 11 cases each were Elk City, Holdenville, Lawton, Lindsay, and Norman.

Of the 1,580 cases reviewed, more than 41 percent of injuries were to persons younger than 18 years old. Thirty-three deaths were reported to the State Trauma Registry during this time and of these, 17, or 52 percent, were under 18 years of age. It is very likely that this underestimates the number of deaths because deaths that occur at the scene and patients transferred out of the state are not captured by this database.

“This year we have another opportunity to try to prevent deaths and terrible injuries caused by children using ATVs without helmets or proper supervision by supporting pending legislation that would regulate use of ATVs by children under age 18,” said Cabinet Secretary for Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

“ATVs are difficult to operate, and children often do not have the cognitive and physical ability to drive these vehicles safely. When compared to bike crashes, parents should remember that an ATV crash is six times more likely to send a child to the hospital and 12 times more likely to kill a child,” Crutcher said.

Two legislative bills were introduced this session to require children younger than 18 years old to wear a helmet while riding on an ATV on public land, such as state parks, and outlaw riding with a passenger, unless the ATV was designed to carry a second person. HB 1686, sponsored by Rep. Bill Nations, was passed in the House today. The law carries a $25 fine and could be enforced by any peace officer including park rangers. A similar bill, SB 1039, introduced by Sen. Andrew Rice, was not heard in Senate Rules Committee.

Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states that has no safety requirements for ATV riders, other than they are not allowed on paved roads. About 28 states have some type of law requiring safety courses, helmets and/or a provision that limits the size of ATVs young riders can use. ATVs are not toys and can travel at highway speeds and weigh up to 600 pounds. Many studies have shown that ATVs roll over frequently and often children are riding ATVs that are too large for their recommended age group. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission 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.

The OSDH study revealed that the body regions most frequently injured were the torso (21.2 percent), upper extremities including head, face and neck (36.4 percent), and traumatic brain injury (15.8 percent). The most common types of injuries were fractures, internal organs, superficial/contusions, and open wounds.

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