OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 30, 2012) - Children and youth under 16 years old should not operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) of any size, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) said in a new statement released today.
The CPS is calling on provinces and territories to harmonize their off-road legislation, prohibiting ATV operators who are under 16 years, making helmet use and training courses compulsory, and restricting riders from carrying passengers. Currently, off-road vehicle legislation varies across Canada.
"ATVs pose a high risk of injury to children and youth," said Dr. Natalie Yanchar, Chair of the CPS Injury Prevention Committee and the statement's author. "Kids don't have the knowledge or strength to operate these vehicles safely. Their lack of sound judgement when encountering a potentially dangerous situation and tendency toward risk-taking only adds to the danger."
About 447 Canadian children under 15 years are hospitalized every year for ATV-related injuries. Among youth aged 16 to 19, there are about 506 admissions a year.
"Provincial and territorial governments need to play a bigger role in regulating and legislating ATVs," says Dr. Yanchar, a paediatric surgeon at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. "ATV injuries and fatalities are far too common. Unsafe behaviours, like taking passengers and driving without a helmet, need to be stopped."
The CPS is also calling on the federal government to help prevent injury by enacting stringent product safety regulations.
In regions where ATVs are commonly used for transportation, such as remote and isolated communities, local education programs that convey the potential danger of ATV use among children and youth are needed.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national professional association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.
To access the full CPS position statement, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.