CALGARY – Officials say almost 40 youth have been injured in ATV accidents in Alberta this spring and summer.
Alberta Health Services released the shocking statistic on Friday, amid concerns more people could be hurt over the long weekend.
They say 38 people under the age of 16 were wounded while using all-terrain vehicles between May 1st and July 26th.
“Sadly, our recent pediatric data shows how unsafe it is for children less than 16 years of age to partake in ATV activities,” says Dr. Brent Friesen, Medical Officer of Health.
Of the 28 children who were injured, 14 suffered serious injuries and two died.
“One injured child is too many,” says Dr. Friesen. “Yet from April 2013 through March 2014, more that 350 children under the age of 17 were seen in Alberta’s emergency departments for ATV-related injuries.
“From 2002 to 2011, 23 children under the age of 16 died,” adds Dr. Friesen.
“These needless injuries and deaths can be stopped.”
AHS is urging parents of children younger than 16-years-old to ensure their child does not drive or ride in an ATV.
“We know that children less than 16 years of age have not yet developed to the point of having the strength, skills or judgment needed to operate an ATV, and this includes ATVs marketed as ‘child- or youth-sized.”
Albertans over the age of 16 are reminded to take the following precautions to ensure their ATV excursions are as safe as possible:
Before you hit the trails, get formal hands-on training from a recognized/trained ATV instructor. Don’t be shy about refreshing your training seasonally.
A helmet can save your life: from 2002 to 2011, 44 per cent of ATV-rider deaths in Alberta were due to head injuries. In 77 per cent of these head injury deaths, the ATV riders were not wearing a helmet. In addition to a helmet, always wear a jacket, long pants, goggles, boots and gloves.
Be sure you’re aware of the weather forecast and any hazards (geographical, animal or human) that the trail(s) you’re on could pose.
Be sure you’re fastened in properly, and all gear and equipment (including your ATV restraints) are in proper working condition before you hit the trails.
Don’t drink or do drugs before or while operating an ATV. Fifty-four per cent of those who died in ATV crashes between 2002 and 2011 tested positive for alcohol.
Before you head out on the trail, let others know where you’re going and when they should expect you back. This helps your loved ones know when to call for help if you’ve been gone too long. Take a cellphone or working radio with you, as well as a first-aid kit. Never hesitate to call for help if you’re stuck, have damaged your ATV, or are injured.
For more information on ATV safety and injury prevention in Alberta, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/injuryprevention.asp.