July 26, 2002
Physician warns improper use of all terrain vehicles can lead to long-term disability
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—In today’s world, riding four-wheeled all terrain vehicles isn’t just for weekend warriors anymore. Today, ATVs are often used by serious sportsmen, on family outings and as a tool in the workplace.
That’s why physicians at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson are cautioning the public to be careful and obey all safety rules while operating them.
“We’ve treated several patients who have suffered serious injuries while riding ATVs but unfortunately, because of the nature of the accidents, many of them die before they ever make it to the hospital,” said Methodist Rehab medical director Dr. Rahul Vohra.
Hospitals and doctor’s offices treated more than 254,000 ATV-related injuries in the year 2000, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The cost of the medical, legal and work loss expenses reached more than $6.5 billion. Since 1982, almost 3,000 have died in ATV accidents.
And children under the age of 16 accounted for about 40 percent of the total ATV-related injuries and deaths.
“One of the most important things people can do if they’re going to operate an ATV is to take a certified training course,” said Dr. Vohra. “And always use the proper safety equipment.”
Other important ATV safety tips include:
- Pay attention to special age recommendations. Children should never ride without adult supervision and completing an approved training course.
- Stay on trails and obey trail markers and closure signs.
- Always give right-of-way to hikers and horseback riders.
- Always wear an approved motorcycle helmet.
- Never carry passengers.
- Never operate an ATV on pavement or a public road.
- Never operate an ATV at an excessive speed.
- Always carry safety equipment such as maps, first aid kit, towrope, flashlight and a cell phone.
- Never operate an ATV under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never go up a hill you wouldn’t want to come down.
In 1987, the ATV industry agreed to halt the production of three-wheeled ATVs and instituted a free driver education program. Still, when not operated properly, four-wheeled ATVs can be equally destructive.
“ATV’s are not toys. They are motor vehicles,” cautioned Mark Bowden, therapy manager of the spinal cord injury program at Methodist Rehab. “The perception is that they are a fun toy, but you wouldn’t give your six-year old the keys to your car, so why would you put one on an ATV. It’s just as dangerous.”
For more information:
Doctors urge ATV driver safety | The Clarion-Ledger