Back in August I wrote about the dangers posed to children by ATVs, and the effort in Massachusetts to cut the number of deaths and injuries to young riders through a new law banning ATV use by kids 14 and younger. Now we have even more evidence of the need for such laws, and the need for accountability among ATV manufacturers.
According to a recent article in the trade publication The Safety Record, a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Injury Research and Policy looks at ATV-related hospitalizations and injuries to children between 1997 and 2006. The study found a huge spike in both categories among children during that time period. The numbers are particularly noteworthy because, as The Safety Record notes, it was during this time that a 10-year consent agreement between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ATV manufacturers expired. Under that agreement, reached in 1988, the manufacturers offered “free training for riders, warning labels, a public education campaign and a ban on three-wheeled ATVs,” the publication notes. Once the agreement expired some manufacturers continued to honor it voluntarily, but others did not.
During the 1997-2006 period, the study found, ATV-related injuries to children (defined as 17 years old or younger) increased by 150 percent overall. Some sub-groups showed even more alarming jumps: notably 15-17 year old boys, among whom injuries increased by 260 percent. “All-Terrain vehicles are inherently dangerous to children,” the report quotes Dr. Stephen Bowman, a Johns Hopkins professor and the study’s lead author, saying.
The fact that the industry continues to pitch its products as family-friendly – using advertisements showing adults and children riding together, for example – should give any parent pause. It also calls out for strong legal action when accidents, inevitably, occur.
Massachusetts tough new law was prompted by the death of an 8-year-old boy. Until Oregon moves to enact similar legislation, many parents are likely to find that their best hope for justice in the event of an Oregon ATV injury to a child or other loved-one lies in the courts. An Oregon child injury attorney with specialized knowledge of the law as it relates to Oregon ATV accidents can be a parent’s most important ally in the fight for justice after a preventable tragedy.
The Safety Record (Newsletter & blog): ATVs and Kids: Searching for a Solution