Children driving ATVs: Doctors ask House for restrictions


WASHINGTON – The American Academy of Pediatrics called on two U.S. House subcommittees to support restrictions on children riding or operating all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other off-road vehicles on public lands.
Reasons. In 2003, 111 children died in ATV crashes and 38,600 children were injured.
Injuries sustained by children riding an adult-sized ATVs are often very serious, including severe brain, spinal, abdominal, and complicated orthopedic injuries.
“Children lack the strength, coordination, and judgment needed to operate ATVs and other off-road vehicles,” said Dr. Mary Dowd, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and member of the academy’s Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.
“This creates the perfect recipe for tragedy.”
Seeking help. Despite the alarming increases in ATV deaths and injuries, government regulation continues to be all but absent.
In 2003, the academy petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the use of adult-sized ATVs by children younger than 16.
While the commission hasn’t yet voted upon the petition, agency staff has formally recommended denying it.
Today’s joint hearing of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health could yield some congressional action.
“Your committees have the power to reduce ATV-related deaths and injuries among children,” Dowd said.
“If the federal government adopted limitations on ATV use by children on public lands, this would serve as both a powerful message and a model for states and localities.”
Safety recommendations. The academy offered specific recommendations for policy makers, including:


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