ATVs are dangerous to children, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Injuries and deaths are increasing. Here’s how to stay safe.
Just a couple of days ago, Britney Spears asked her fans on social media to pray for her niece.
Eight-year old Maddie Aldridge, the daughter of Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney’s younger sister, had an accident while riding on her all-terrain vehicles (ATV) on the family’s property, and wound up in a temporary coma.
The young girl accidentally drove into a pond while trying to avoid a drainage ditch. She ended up trapped underwater by her seat belt for 2 minutes before rescuers could get her out.
Reports indicate that Maddie’s mom and her step-dad, Jamie Watson, were both on hand to watch the horror unfold. They dove in the water immediately to get her out, but struggled to free her properly from her safety belt.
One of the Most Dangerous Products
Miraculously, Maddie has now awoken from her sleep and is talking. She is said to be recognizing her family members and so far, seems to be OK.
But obviously, things could have been much worse. The incident has left some parents wondering, just how common ARE accidents like this?
According to data released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least 58 children lost their lives in accidents caused by ATVs in 2015.
55% percent of the children killed were younger than 12 years old in 2015, and a whopping 26,700 children were injured badly enough by ATVs to require a trip to a hospital emergency department.
“Thousands of families every year suffer as a result of ATV deaths and serious injuries,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for the Consumer Federation of America.
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“ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC’s jurisdiction,” she added.
“Data indicates that injuries and deaths from ATVs have increased and much more must be done to prevent these serious and sometimes life altering incidents.”
What Doctors Say
So, if the safety equipment couldn’t keep Maddie from injury, how can kids stay safe around these vehicles?
The CPSC, industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s.
But doctors have a different view. Just stay away from the machines, medical professionals say- at least until your child is 16 years of age.
The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, weighed in on the issue.
“As a pediatrician, my number one job is to keep children safe and healthy,” says Stein. “ATVs (of any size) are not safe for children and should not be used by any child under the age of 16. Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines.”
In 2002, consumer groups filed a petition with the CPSC calling for the CPSC to ban the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children. While the agency denied the petition, the CPSC began a rulemaking process that’s still in the works, to create new ATV safety standards.
Hopefully Maddie continues to improve.