New Study Highlights the Risks of All Non-Automobile Motorized Vehicles to Children

July 2, 2007

Although all-terrain vehicle (ATV)-related injuries are a serious concern, so are pediatric injuries related to other types of non-automobile motorized vehicles. A study conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at Columbus Children’s Hospital, is the first to use a nationally representative sample to describe the epidemiology of pediatric (19-years-old and younger) non-automobile motorized vehicle-related injuries, and to compare ATV-related injuries with injuries sustained from other types of non-automobile motorized vehicles.

According to the study, published in the July issue of Pediatrics, there were an estimated 1.2 million non-automobile motorized vehicle-related injuries that resulted in treatment in U.S. emergency departments from 1990 through 2003. Overall, the number of injuries increased 86 percent during the 14-year study period from 70,500 injuries in 1990 to 130,900 injuries in 2003.

“Although most public health and legislative attention to date has been focused on all-terrain vehicles, parents, children and public officials should be educated about the injury risk that all types of non-automobile motorized vehicles pose to children,” explained lead author Christy Collins, MA, CIRP research associate. “Most children simply do not yet have the judgment and motor skills needed to operate non-automobile motorized vehicles safely.”

Although many injuries were associated with ATVs, more than half of the 1.2 million injuries were associated with other types of non-automobile motorized vehicles, such as two-wheeled, off-road vehicles and go-carts/buggies. Boys accounted for 77 percent of the injuries, and the most common diagnoses were contusions, abrasions, fractures and lacerations.

“In this study, we found that in almost every year from 1990 to 2003, children 12 to 15 years of age sustained the greatest proportion of non-automobile motorized vehicle-related injuries,” said co-author Dawn Comstock, PhD, CIRP principal investigator and a faculty member of Ohio State University College of Medicine.

There were greater proportions of ATV-associated injuries among children 12 years of age and older. Conversely, the proportion of other non-automobile motorized vehicle-related injuries among children younger than 12-years-old was greater.

“Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of safety legislation for ATVs and two-wheeled vehicles,” said co-author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of CIRP at Columbus Children’s Hospital and a faculty member of Ohio State University College of Medicine. “All states in the United States should be encouraged to adopt the most effective policies to prevent injuries to children, and these polices should be expanded to include all types of non-automobile motorized vehicles.”

Data for the study were collected from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). The analysis included all patients 19-years-old and younger in the NEISS database who were seen in U.S. hospital emergency departments for a non-automobile motorized vehicle-related injury during the 14-year period.

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