March 17, 2005 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Little Rock
County selected for ATV safety Campaign By Jeff Dezort Newton County Times
JASPER- Newton County leads the state in the number of reports of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents resulting in injuries, many of them involving children. So, a group of investigating physicians from Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UAMS wants to conduct a study to see if a community-based education campaign will result in a decline in the accident rate. The team of investigators are part of the ATV Work Group, Injury Free Coalition For Kids at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the UAS College of Medicine. The y include Dr. Mary Aitken, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, Dr. James Graham, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, Dr. Rhonda Dick, M.D., emergency room director at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Hope Mullins, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids coordinator. Working in Little Rock, the team traveled to Newton County Monday, March 14, to meet with the Newton County Hometown Health Coalition which agreed to assist the researchers by providing general information about the county and expressing ideas how research data could be best collected and how An Educational campaign could be carried out. Dr. Graham opened the meeting by presenting information gathered statewide from ambulance and hospital records showing the number of reported ATV related injuries. Newton County led the state with between 76 to 100 injuries per 100,000 during a period from 1996 to 2003. The group’s data shows that 56 percent of ATV deaths occur in collisions, more than half with a fixed object; 35 percent from overturns, backward more common than forward 60 percent of the deaths occur on roadways and only 1 percent occur on ATV trails. Children under 16 years old constitute 14 percent of all drivers; 40 percent of all injuries and 35 percent of all ATV-related deaths. Males are over-represented as they are three times more likely to experience injury and younger males are most at risk. Children are most often injured because the ATV is designed for adults. They have a high center of gravity, are powerful and capable of reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hours and are designed for a single rider. In 1988 three-wheeled ATVs were banned, but still injuries continue to increase because of the four-wheelers’ increase in popularity. ATV hospitalizations nation-wide show to be mostly head injuries, spinal trauma, orthopedic injuries, and more unusual injuries such as riders being clotheslined by wire fences and foot and lower leg injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended education, engineering safety equipment on the ATV and legislation aimed to reduce ATV injury accidents. Arkansas has few ATV regulations. All that is required is a one-time fee paid to the Department of Finance. No drivers license is required however riders under ht age of 12 have to have adult supervision. It is unlawful to drive and ATV on public roads, but there are exceptions such as riding to and from an ATV trail, while hunting or going between pastures. Though in effect that law in not enforceable. West Virginia is one stat that has implemented strict regulations on ATVs. Focus groups have looked at licensing, mandatory training and possibly helmet laws. Thy did find however that placing age restriction would not be enforceable. With all of the studies that have been conducted nationwide, nowhere, the investigators said, has there been a community-based campaign to reduce that number of youngsters hurt on ATVs. The injury Free Coalition For Kids has received grant funds to conduct an ATV Community Education Campaign Study. The project would be conducted over a two-year period. Mena, Ark., which also reports a high number of ATV accidents, will serve as a control in the study to scientifically measure the success of the community-based campaign. Steve Unruh, a teacher at Mt. Judea High School and advisor for the school’s Student Rapid Response Team, noted that several years ago an ATV dealership provided a safety program at the school and offered safety equipment at a discounted price. Susan Holman, extension agent, added that Farm Bureau also provides ATV safety programs for school. The Injury Free Coalition has access to printed materials including pamphlets from Children’s Hospital that warn that an ATV is not a toy. The campaign could begin as early as April 2 with the ATV Rodeo set for the fairgrounds.