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Kids and ATVs: How to Help Prevent Severe Injuries

Aug 12, 2020

Riding all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs) has become a popular activity, with over 10 million ATVs estimated to be in active use in the United States. Although there has been a decline in ATV-related injuries in recent years, children younger than 12 years make up almost half of ATV-related head and neck injuries.

On an average weekend day during the warm weather months of April through September, 68 children and teens across the country will visit an emergency room for a non-fatal ATV-related head or neck injury. Injuries most frequently occur when riders are thrown off, crash, or rollover an ATV.

Some of these injuries can be prevented or less severe. If you or your family uses ATVs, follow these tips to reduce risky behaviors and keep your family safer:

  • Maturity check: Children should be old enough to drive a car before they operate an ATV. Driving an ATV requires the same judgement and coordination of operating any other motor vehicle. Wait until your child is capable of making mature decisions behind the wheel before allowing them to drive an ATV.
  • Single rider: Most ATVs are designed for one person – the driver. Passengers can make ATVs unstable and hard to control. Multiple people on the ATV puts both the driver and the passenger at increased risk of injury.
  • Wear a helmet: A properly fitting helmet designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use must be worn when riding at ATV. Helmets should have safety visors or face shields for eye protection. Sturdy closed-toe shoes (not flip flops) are a good idea too.
  • Good visibility: Do not operate in the dark or other situations where there is poor visibility of surroundings.
  • Stay off roads: ATVs are designed for off-road use. Use on streets, highways and other roadways is not recommended. Children and teens who were injured on a road or highway were about 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital for their injuries than those injured at other locations.

For more information about ATV safety from the Center for Injury Research and Policy, click here.

To learn more about Ear, Nose, and Throat Services at Nationwide Children’s, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Kris Jatana, MD, FAAP

Kris R. Jatana, MD, FAAP, a native of Columbus, has joined the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.