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CDC Finds Helmet Use Is Lacking Among Young ATV Riders

Most people assume that motorcycles, snowmobiles and boats comprise the lion’s share of recreational vehicle sales here in the U.S. While there is no disputing the popularity of these machines, it’s important not to overlook the looming market presence of all-terrain vehicles.

Consider a 2011 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which found that there were over 10 million ATVs currently in use throughout the nation. These three- and four-wheeled vehicles, which can easily weigh as much as 1,000 pounds, are especially popular in rural communities, where people use them to traverse everything from fields and paths to dirt roads and even paved streets.

Aside from being useful and exhilarating at the same time, ATV riding is not without its dangers. Indeed, riders run the risk of suffering serious and potentially deadly personal injuries in ATV rollover accidents, including spine trauma and brain injuries.

While studies have definitively proven that wearing a proper fitting and Department of Transportation-certified helmet can greatly reduce the potential for serious head trauma, many riders opt not to wear them. In fact, a recently released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that helmet use among children, who comprise a large segment of the ATV-riding population, was disturbingly low.

Here, the CDC researchers included several questions about ATV-riding habits in a 2011 online health survey of over 830 children ranging from 12 to 17. The questions sought to determine how often the children rode ATVs and what their helmet habits were.

They found the following:

  • 25 percent of kids indicated that they had ridden an ATV at least once within the past year, with the majority living in rural areas.
  • 45 percent of kids who had ridden an ATV at least once within the past year indicated that they always wore a helmet.
  • 25 percent of kids who had ridden an ATV at least once within the past year indicated that they never wore a helmet.
  • Eight out of every ten kids who had ridden an ATV at least six times within the past year indicated that they didn’t regularly wear a helmet.

According to the CDC researchers, this reality coupled with the fact that children are more prone to accidents by virtue of their inexperience and more likely to suffer permanent head injuries due to their still developing physical strength means that parents must step up when it comes to helmet enforcement.

“Parents are key in making sure their children have a helmet that fits properly and getting their child to agree to wear it every time they ride,” said one of the primary researchers, who also suggested that adults should set a good example by wearing their own helmet when out on an ATV.

It’s important to understand that not all brain injuries and other potentially deadly trauma can be attributed to the ATV rider. Indeed, many of these machines have been improperly designed such that they can cause accidents even when the rider is operating it in a safe manner. If you believe that this has happened to someone in your family, it’s imperative to speak with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, “One quarter of U.S. kids ride ATVs, most without helmets: study,” Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, July 1, 2014