The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) compiled a report on injuries among children from ATV use. The report contains several strong recommendations, including that no child under 16 should operate an ATV, not even smaller machines marketed for youths.
The CPS also called for mandatory training in ATV safety, among other things.
Here’s why they’re so concerned:
- Injuries related to ATV use in Canada have been on the rise since 1996.
- Almost 40 per cent of those who died were children under 19.
- More than 100 Manitobans are hurt or killed in off road vehicle accidents each year.
Small ATVs not the answer
The all-terrain vehicle industry markets a variety of different size machines aimed at the user’s age group. Industry guidelines suggest youth models are best for children under 16.
But the CPS report says that isn’t the answer to accidents and injuries.
“Currently, there is little evidence to suggest that smaller youth models are safer when used by children.”
Prone to flip
It says youth machines are still heavy, can travel at high speeds, and are just as prone to flips and rollovers. Statistics show driving a youth size model (under 90 cc) versus an adult one (up to 200 cc) only reduces the risk of injury by 18 per cent.
And when compared to adults riding a larger machine, children and youth on smaller ATVs have double the risk of hurting themselves.
Kids at risk
Why are kids in so much more danger?
It comes down to inexperience at driving, lack of size and strength, immature motor skills and cognitive development, and a tendency for youth to engage in risky behaviours, says the CPS.
It all adds up to greater risk of harm for children and teens. Most of their ATV accidents involve rollovers, falling off the unit, or hitting an obstacle.
The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends:
- Children and youth younger than 16 should not operate an ATV, not even youth models.
- All ATV users should wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing and footwear.
- Operators of ATVs designed for single riders should never take on passengers.
- ATV drivers should complete an approved training course with mandatory testing, licensing and registration.
- ATV drivers should not operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol or when potentially impaired by other substances.
Under Manitoba law, safety training is mandatory for those under 16 and children under 14 must have adult supervision when using an ATV regardless of whether they ride on public or private land.
Manitoba Public Insurance offers a free guidebook for off road vehicle use here: www.mpi.mb.ca/en/PDFs/ORVBrochure.pdf