According to BMJ Open research, quad bikes (ATVs) can seriously injure children.
The experts think public education efforts on their risks are necessary.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that 10.7 million four-wheeled ATVs were in use in 2012, after being created in the 1960s as farm vehicles.
ATVs currently weigh over 600 lb, have engines over 600 cc/50-hp, and can exceed 100 mph. The CPSC estimates that emergency departments treated over 100,000 ATV-related injuries in 2013.
Children make up 15% of ATV riders but are responsible for 25% of ATV-related injuries and deaths.
The researchers wanted to know if ATV injuries are worse than motorbike and car injuries in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas, where ATVs are utilised for work and enjoyment.
They assessed the severity of all injuries from these three vehicle types treated at a regional trauma centre between 2015 and August 2020. The hospital served 8 counties and 1.7 million people at data collection.
ISS, GCS, and hospital stay determined injury severity.
Pre-existing conditions, age, sex, ethnicity, drug usage, and whether seat belts and helmets were used at the time of injury were all recorded. Children were under 14.
The trauma facility treated 3942 vehicle, motorcycle, and ATV injuries between 2015 and August 2020.
Children made up slightly over 12% of the sample but 38% of ATV injuries, compared to over 12% of automobile injuries and 7% of motorbike injuries. Half of the injured were Hispanic men and boys.
ATVs injured more men/boys and children than cars or motorbikes. ATV injuries sent three times more youngsters to the trauma centre than vehicle and five times more than motorbike injuries.
Only 29 patients (0.74%) died, although those wounded by ATVs were more likely to have open fractures, also known as complex fractures—an open incision or break in the skin around the shattered bone.
“Most open fractures and soft tissue injuries require many procedures to decrease the risk of infection and may require several surgical specialties such as plastic surgeons and vascular surgeons to treat the patient,” the researchers say.
Despite ATVs’ smaller engines and slower speeds, injury severity was not statistically different between sources.
“There is substantial evidence that ATV-related injuries continue to be a significant source of paediatric injuries,” they say.
ATVs lack a protective casing like cars. “Even low-speed injuries can cause more severe injuries and soft tissue damage,” they say.
Patients who were under the influence at the time of their injuries had roughly 4 times higher ISS scores.
After controlling for sex and race, children who used protective gear and weren’t under the influence had shorter hospital stays. However, only 4% of ATV accident victims wore helmets, compared to 50% of motorbike accident victims.
Due to high injury rates, the CPSC prohibited three-wheeled ATVs for 10 years in 1988. Since the restriction expired, more powerful ATVs have been produced, resulting in increased ATV-related injuries, especially among youngsters and young adults, according to the study.
“Without enforceable safety standards, the sale and use of four-wheel ATVs or quads remain lightly regulated,” they conclude.
ATV-related injury awareness efforts for children are needed. To reduce ATV-related injuries, young riders’ vulnerability and the significance of protective gear must be stressed.
Comparative analysis of all-terrain vehicles, motorcycle and automobile related trauma in a rural border community of the USA, BMJ Open (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054289