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ATVs and Your Children: Dangerous Terrain

By: Gwendolyn Zepeda - Houstonia Magazine

With all-terrain vehicles increasing in popularity, accidents are also on the rise. In the fiscal year ending in June 2013, the emergency room at Children’s Memorial Hermann treated 112 patients for ATV-related incidents. Of those, nearly 35 percent were under the age of 16.

“Riding ATVs, while fun, can be incredibly dangerous,” says Dr. Samuel Prater, the hospital’s Medical Director of Emergency Services. “If you ultimately decide to ride an ATV, please ensure you are aware of the risks and high incidence of injuries related to ATVs. All it takes is one mistake to change your life or another's life forever.”

Those riding in ATVs—or allowing their children to do so—must make sure to take every precaution. “It's important to remember that an ATV is a vehicle similar to a motorcycle,” says Dr. Prater, “and with any vehicle, it's important to practice safe driving habits.” He offers parents the following rules for all-terrain vehicle use:

  • Do not drink alcohol while driving ATVs
  • Do not engage in “distracted driving” such as texting or reading from maps or GPS devices
  • Wear a helmet and keep it buckled
  • Limit riders to one individual per seat

The ATV Safety Institute further recommends the ATV users wear goggles, gloves, and boots and that they avoid paved roads, staying instead on designated trails. And the best way to avoid getting hurt, of course, is to stay off these vehicles altogether.