The Primary Children’s Hospital reports a 34% increase in ATV accidents involving children

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Emilia, 11, of Las Vegas, was recently injured when an ATV rolled over her. The Primary Children’s Hospital saw ATV-related injuries increase by 34% last year. (Primary Children’s Hospital)

SALT LAKE CITY – Between 2019 and 2020, Utah’s Primary Children’s Hospital saw a 34% increase in ATV accidents involving children. This year, those numbers could be even higher.

Utah has more traumatic brain injuries in children than any other state in the country, with a large percentage of those injuries attributable to ATV accidents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Utah Department of Health says children are 1,000 times more likely to be injured in an ATV than in a car.

Experts from the hospital and the Utah Department of Natural Resources advised Utah families in a news conference Thursday that they can stay safe this July 4th weekend and this summer by following these safety guidelines when driving ATVs:

  • Find out for yourself and your children in person or online about ATVs and the safety of ATVs with the Utah OHV Safety Training Course.
  • Make sure that children under the age of 16 have received the necessary specialist training.
  • Adjust the size and horsepower of the ATV based on the size and experience of the rider.
  • Wear suitable protective equipment such as full-face helmets, long sleeves, long trousers, ankle boots and safety glasses.
  • Replace helmets if they have expired or have been in an accident.
  • Make sure the helmets fit properly as children grow.
  • Wear a seat belt.
  • Make sure children are under adult supervision while driving.
  • Make sure drivers have the maturity and common sense to operate a high performing vehicle.
  • Find out in advance the route you plan to take.
  • Stay on paved roads.
  • Bring a satellite phone in case of an emergency.
  • Do not leave your keys unattended in your vehicle.
  • Do not go beyond your ability.
  • Lead by example

“Families can change that,” said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Primary Children’s Hospital. “Injury prevention is something we can all do. And by preventing injury, we can help children reach their full potential.”

One reason for the increase in injuries is the rise in registrations of ATV vehicles, which means that a large number of new drivers are driving these vehicles. Last year alone, the state of Utah saw an increase of 7,000 machines, culminating in over 214,000 registered vehicles, said Chris Haller, coordinator of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation’s off-highway vehicle program.

“These (new drivers) should be concerned about their own safety,” he said. “It takes eight precious seconds to make an investment in your life. Three seconds to buckle up and five seconds to buckle up a helmet.”

A Las Vegas family who requested not to include their surname spoke about their 11-year-old daughter Emelia’s recent RZR accident in which the child was trapped under the vehicle, flown to a hospital and given life support.

Emelia, 11, is recovering at Primary Children's Hospital after being trapped under an ATV earlier this year.
Emelia, 11, is recovering at Primary Children’s Hospital after being trapped under an ATV earlier this year. (Photo: primary school children’s hospital)

“After everything she’s been through, including three cardiac arrests, she shouldn’t be alive today. She really is our miracle,” said her mother Jessica.

After extensive rehab, Emelia is back to her old self, mainly because she wore a helmet and because someone nearby had a satellite phone to call for help. Your parents are grateful to have a happy story to tell, but admit that they should be more aware of it.

Emelia, 11, was treated with her parents Jessica (left) and Beau from Las Vegas at the Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City after she was injured while driving an off-road vehicle.
Emelia, 11, was treated with her parents Jessica (left) and Beau from Las Vegas at the Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City after she was injured while driving an off-road vehicle. (Photo: primary school children’s hospital)

“It’s an activity we’ve done many, many times. And we’re still in favor of having fun with these vehicles, ”said Emilia’s father Beau.

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