Whatever your views, parental supervision and helmet use is one way to help prevent serious injuries. By Brad Sauter/Fotolia.com
By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
I’d just read an article about all-terrain vehicles and helmet use when I received a call recently about a friend who’d been involved in an accident on an ATV while on vacation. My friend suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs. He was very lucky in some ways, since he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently conducted a survey to estimate the frequency of ATV riding among kids between the ages of 12 and 17. About 25 percent of youths responded that they’d ridden an ATV in the last year. Males were found to ride more frequently than females (no surprise). Geographically, there were more riders in the South, fewer in the Northeast, and rural areas had more riders than urban areas.
Alas, only 45 percent of riders reported always wearing a helmet! Twenty percent reported wearing a helmet “sometimes,” 10 percent said they seldom wore a helmet, and 25 percent admitted to NEVER wearing a helmet. Interestingly, riders who rode more frequently were more likely to wear a helmet.
ATV accidents are quite common. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has advocated prohibiting the use of ATV’s by children under 16 years of age. Statistically, between 20 and 25 percent of injuries and deaths secondary to an ATV accident are in children under the age of 16, with deadly ATV accidents peaking between ages 14 and 15.
Head injuries occur in at least 60 percent of ATV deaths. Helmet use is associated with reduced risk of traumatic brain injuries, but unfortunately, the CDC survey shows that many teens continue to ride without helmets.
It seems that many vacation destinations worldwide offer ATV excursions or rentals. Parents need to be aware of the risks involved while riding an ATV with their children, or having their children driving one alone.
As my own children used to declare, “Everything we think is fun, you think is dangerous,” and I’m sure I did caution them many times. They’ve also ridden ATVs, and as far as I’m aware, always with a helmet.
Whatever your views, parental supervision and helmet use is one way to help prevent serious injuries. Be safe, listen to the rules of the road and wear a helmet! My friend was truly fortunate.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid's Doctor e-book, "Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today's Teen," is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.
This column was printed in the November 15, 2015 - November 28, 2015 edition.