Impact of helmets on injuries to riders of all-terrain vehicles

Inj Prev. 2009 Feb;15(1):3-7. doi: 10.1136/ip.2008.019372.


Background: Although helmet use has been shown to be effective in reducing traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) due to motorcycle and bicycle crashes, it is unknown whether helmet use is associated with different injury patterns and severity for users of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Objectives: To compare likelihood of injury and death between helmeted and unhelmeted riders of ATVs.

Methods: The National Trauma Data Bank for years 2002-2006 was used to examine the records of 11 589 patients hospitalized for injuries resulting from ATV use. The likelihood of receiving a TBI diagnosis or a significant injury to other body regions and differences in injury severity and in-hospital mortality between helmeted and unhelmeted ATV riders were compared.

Results: After multivariable adjustment, compared with helmeted riders, unhelmeted riders were significantly more likely to sustain any TBI (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.49 to 1.76, p<0.001) and major/severe TBI (OR 3.19, 95% CI 2.39 to 4.25, p<0.001). Unhelmeted riders were significantly more likely to die while in hospital than were helmeted riders (OR 2.58, 95% CI 1.79 to 3.71, p<0.001). Significant injuries to the neck and face regions were also significantly more likely in unhelmeted riders (OR 3.53, 95% CI 1.28 to 9.71, p = 0.015, and OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.32 to 2.84, p = 0.001, respectively).

Conclusions: ATV riders who do not wear helmets are more likely to receive significant injuries to the head, face, and neck. Prevention strategies and enforceable policy interventions to increase helmet use among ATV riders appear warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control
  • Facial Injuries / epidemiology
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Neck Injuries / prevention & control
  • Off-Road Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult