How young is too young to be driving an ATV? The question was prompted after a study from Ontario’s Hospital for Sick Children, or SickKids, revealed a high number of children being reported as seriously injured through ATV related activities.
“We want people to just be aware of the risks,” said Chloe McNamee, a health promotion facilitator with Alberta Health Services. “Typically we see injuries for children under 16 and we commonly see about 20 per cent of that in Alberta.”
It’s a fun summer activity, but it’s also one that can cause serious injuries and fatalities to young Canadians each year.
As a recent survey done by SickKids shows, 175 serious and 6 fatal child-related ATV incidents were reported by physicians over a 12-month period, predominantly in Alberta, BC and Ontario.
Alberta allows riders of all ages to operate an ATV with the exception that riders under the age of 14 must be supervised. This, however, is a sentiment that some medical professionals question.
“For Alberta Health Services, we do not recommend children under the age of 16 to be driving ATVs,” said McNamee. “We recommend that too young to drive equals too young to ride.”
Alberta also doesn’t require safety training before operating these vehicles outside of the workplace, and these are two regulations that vary largely from other provinces like Quebec, where mandatory training is required and children under 16 are prohibited from driving adult-sized ATVs.
“I would happily run kids’ courses out here on the weekends in a second,” added Tams, “but unfortunately kids’ parents aren’t seeing the need for it or thinking it’s actually important.”
One quad squad group member also says the responsibility shouldn’t fully rely on the law.
“I’m in agreement that there should be training somewhere along the line,” said Peter Reed, director of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad.
“But as far as the law goes, it’s pretty straight forward and pretty clear that the onus is on the legal guardian somewhere to look after these kids while they are riding.”
While ATVs are often used by all ages for work purposes, the survey also found that 83.2 per cent of the reported injuries were due to recreational use.