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FOR RELEASE: April 16 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Study Shows ATV Passengers Also At-Risk of Preventable Injuries

A study conducted at the Trauma Emergency Center at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa found that ATV passengers are also at risk of injury, not just ATV drivers. The study found that 25 percent of persons treated for ATV-related injuries were passengers on an ATV, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service.

The study, which covers the time from March 1, 2003, through July 31, 2005, showed that 48 of the 193 persons treated for ATV injuries were passengers. One passenger died and almost half of the passengers, 48 percent, were admitted to the hospital.

“Just because you are a passenger on an ATV instead of the driver, doesn’t mean you are not at risk of serious injury or death. We discovered that many people are riding on ATVs that were not designed to carry passengers. These injuries are preventable and we will continue to inform the public about ways to prevent ATV-related injuries and deaths by following the proper use of ATVs and by wearing helmets, “ said Cabinet Secretary for Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “If we can prevent one injury or death, it will be worth it.”

The study includes all patients presenting to the Trauma Emergency Center at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa with ATV injuries for a 29-month time period. Some other important findings include:

  • Thirty-six (75 percent) of the 48 injured passengers were children under 18 years of age, including seven injured passengers less than 5 years of age.
  • Only four injured passengers were wearing a helmet.
  • There was one rider on the ATV in 60 percent of crashes, two riders in 35 percent of the crashes, three or more riders in four percent, and an unknown number of riders in two percent of the ATV crashes reviewed for this study.

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 800 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 ATV Safety Institute recommends that passengers never be carried on an ATV unless the ATV is manufactured specifically to carry a passenger. Although the seat on a single-rider ATV may seem large enough to accommodate a passenger, the entire seat is needed to allow the driver to shift their weight to maneuver the vehicle and maintain the balance of the vehicle.

Pending Oklahoma state legislation would require children younger than 18 years of age to wear a helmet while riding on an ATV on public land, such as state parks. The legislation would also outlaw riding with a passenger unless the ATV was designed to carry a second person.


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