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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ATVs: Great Fun, But High Risk for Young Operators


Andy LaGuardia
(914) 493-6532

Anna Dolianitis
(914) 493-3147

After Caring for Many Seriously Injured Children, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Urges Young Riders to Follow Safe ATV Operation Guidelines

VALHALLA, N.Y. (June 1, 2016) – With Memorial Day behind us and summer around the corner, many Hudson Valley residents are jumping on their all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for the warm-weather riding season. ATVs are an essential work tool for many in our area, as well a source of entertainment. But these high-powered vehicles can also pose serious safety risks – for children, in particular – if not operated properly.

“ATVs are not toys and can be very dangerous, especially for young children,” said Gustavo Stringel, M.D., Director of Pediatric Trauma at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. “We have seen many children arrive in our trauma center with serious injuries such as internal bleeding and traumatic brain injuries due to ATV accidents. We’ve even seen fatalities. Educating families about how to prevent these injuries is essential.”

Riding an ATV, a self-propelled heavy duty vehicle intended for off-road use, has the highest risk of hospitalization among 33 sports, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC reports that ATV accidents cause more than 700 deaths and 100,000 injuries in the United States each year.

The Local Impact of ATV Accidents

Here in the Hudson Valley, in just the past four years the Level I pediatric trauma program at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital treated more than 40 children for ATV-related injuries. Twenty nine of those patients were under the age of 14. Common injuries include fractured bones along with head and facial injuries due to rollovers, collisions with stationary objects and falls from the vehicle. Fatalities are usually the result of injuries to the head and neck. Almost half of the patients who sustained ATV-related injuries were not wearing a helmet.

“ATVs are dangerous for children because they lack the judgment, depth perception, cognitive abilities, and hand-eye coordination required to operate such a powerful vehicle,” explained Dr. Stringel.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against children under the age of 16 riding on or operating an ATV; however, it is not prohibited by New York State law.

The CPSC and ATV Safety Institute offer these tips, also endorsed by Dr. Stringel, to help prevent accidents:

  • Always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective gear (boots, gloves, long pants and jacket).
  • Only ride a vehicle that is appropriate for your size.
  • Don’t allow any passengers on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV designed for two people. Multiple passengers increase the likelihood of a crash.
  • Only ride on designated trails at a safe speed. Never ride on public roads.
  • Ensure proper maintenance of the ATV.
  • Do not ride an ATV at night.
  • Do not ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Take an ATV safety course. Check www.dmv.ny.gov to find an ATV safety course near you.

For more information, visit http://www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/atv-safety.

For a downloadable infographic about ATV safety, visit www.advancingcarehv.com/the-abcs-of-atv-safety.

About Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network is the children’s hospital for New York’s Hudson Valley region and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The hospital is home to the region’s only pediatric intensive care unit and its regional neonatal intensive care unit as well as its only pediatric transplant program, pediatric burn care and trauma services and cardiac catheterization program. For more information, visit www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/MFCH.

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth)

The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 12,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. From Level 1, Level 2 and Pediatric Trauma Centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State, today WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit www.WMCHealth.org.