All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

Riding all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs) has become a popular activity, with over 10 million ATVs estimated to be in active use in the US. 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.

Head and Neck Injury Facts

  • A recent study found an average of more than 11,000 children and teens treated for nonfatal ATV-related head and neck injuries annually in emergency departments – that’s approximately 31 children and teens injured each day.
  • 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.
  • Being thrown off of an ATV is the most common mechanism of injury (30%), followed by crash (19%) and rollover (16%).
  • Overall, broken bones and concussions/closed head injuries each account for approximately one-third of the injuries, but these proportions vary by age group.
  • More than 15% of injured youth are admitted to a hospital.
  • Riding on a roadway is especially dangerous. Children and teens who are injured on a street or highway are about 1.5 times more likely to be admitted to a hospital for their injury than those injured at other locations.

Injury Prevention Tips

  • 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 recommended too. Other recommended safety gear includes long pants, long sleeves, goggles (if helmet doesn't have eye protection), and gloves.
  • 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.

Additional All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) Resources

  • Nonfatal All-Terrain Vehicle-Related Head and Neck Injuries to Children Treated in United States Emergency Departments
  • Ohio ATV Safety
  • Center for Injury Research and Policy Calls for Swift Government Response to Escalating ATV Safety Crisis