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24-10-2011 | Paediatrics | Article

All-terrain vehicles pose high injury risk to under 16s


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MedWire News: Children often get injured when driving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) designed for adult use, findings from two US studies indicate.

Indeed, multiple passenger use appears to be the primary cause of injuries arising from ATV-related accidents, said Charles Jennissen (University of Iowa Children's Hospital, USA), lead author of both studies.

"We suggest a shorter seat, starting further from the handle bar attachment, is the preferred seat design," he remarked.

"This should discourage multiple passenger ATV use by reducing the space available for additional riders, and help decrease the number of ATV injuries," he added.

The studies, presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, identified the key causes of ATV-related injuries in children.

In the first study, Jennissen and co-researchers analyzed the charts of 345 individuals admitted to the emergency departments of the University of Iowa Hospitals from 2002 through 2009 with ATV-related injuries.

Of these, 30% were aged less than 16 years, and 80% were male. The majority of these patients (80%) reported not wearing a helmet at the time of injury, and ATV rollover was reported as the most common method of injury.

The assessment of injured individuals aged 16 years or older showed that 41% and 30% tested positive for alcohol and drugs, respectively, on admission to hospital after the accident.

The second study involved the analysis of 15 adult-sized utility and sport ATVs. Jennissen and team found that the backs of all seats were approximately 38-45 inches away from the handlebar attachment of the vehicle, and that seat lengths varied from 22 to 35 inches depending on the model.

However, when the researchers assessed the body positioning required by a rider to avoid front rollover of an ATV, they found that current ATV designs are not adequate for preventing rollovers.

"Since a rider can adequately change their center of gravity on an incline without shifting their bottom forward, the seat is not required to be as close to the handles as many manufacturers design," explained Jennissen.

He concluded that the increasing size and speed of today's ATVs and the use of ATVs by children are key contributors to the marked injury risk associated with these vehicles.

By Lauretta Ihonor

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