All-terrain vehicle riding among youth: how do they fair?

J Pediatr Surg. 2010 May;45(5):925-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.02.021.


Purpose: Pediatric all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries have been increasing annually for more than a decade. The objective of this study was to describe the riding behaviors, helmet use, and crash history of young ATV riders.

Methods: A 38 question self-administered survey was distributed to a convenience sample of children at 4 agricultural fairs during 2007. A total of 228 surveys were reviewed. Collected data included demographic information, ATV characteristics, helmet use, driving habits, and crash history.

Results: Survey respondents were predominantly male (71%) with an average age of 13.6 +/- 2.0 years. Riding began at a young age (9.2 +/- 3.2 years). Few children reported using age-appropriate sized engines (3% < 90 cm(3)), and 22% of children rode ATVs with engines more than 300 cm(3). Respondents rode primarily for recreation (94%), and more than a third reported riding without a helmet (40%). More than 70% of children reported riding with passengers, 60% without adult supervision, and nearly half (46%) rode after dark. Less than 5% of riders received any formal ATV riding/safety instruction. Of the respondents, 45% reported being involved in an ATV crash. Those children who reported a crash also rode more powerful ATVs, were more often self-taught, and overall reported higher rates of riding with passengers and without supervision, and riding after dark (P < .05).

Conclusion: Dangerous driving behavior among children who ride ATVs is widespread, and current safety recommendations are largely ignored. Renewed efforts are needed to improve safety programs and create policy measures that prevent pediatric ATV crash-related injuries.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Off-Road Motor Vehicles*
  • Rural Population
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*