Nationally, the number of All-TerrainVehicle (ATV)-related emergency department visits has more than doubled in recent years, from 52,800 in 1997 to 136,100 in 2004. In Ohio there are now more than 10,000 hospital visits each year for ATV-related injuries. In addition, Ohio ranks in the top one-third nationally in the number of deaths caused by ATVs. Sadly, children younger than 16 years of age account for roughly one-third of all ATV-related deaths and injuries.
“Given the rapidly increasing ATV-related injury rates that disproportionately affect children younger than 16, action needs to be taken to protect Ohioans and their children,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Requiring all riders to wear helmets, instituting passenger restrictions, limiting the use of ATVs by children younger than 16 years old, and requiring safety classes would decrease death and injury related to the use of ATVs in Ohio. Furthermore, our survey shows that a large majority of Ohio voters would support this legislation.”
In June 2006, the Center for Injury Research and Policy conducted a statewide telephone survey with 838 registered voters to assess Ohio voters’ attitudes toward possible laws regarding ATV use and safety.
More than 90 percent of respondents agreed that it is important for elected state officials to support legislation that helps protect the public’s health and safety. Support was strongest for laws restricting the use of ATVs by children (81 percent), prohibiting passengers (81 percent), instituting a mandatory safety class (77 percent) and requiring helmets (78 percent). Support for these potential laws was high among ATV users as well.
This survey shows that Ohio voters are concerned about safety. “More than 50 percent of the reasons given by survey participants for supporting laws regarding ATV use focused on increasing safety and reducing injuries and deaths,” said Lara Trifiletti, PhD, co-investigator and faculty member of the Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Research has shown that laws do increase desired safety behaviors, and this survey provides evidence to support that finding. Only 26 percent of the ATV users polled reported always wearing a helmet when riding an ATV. If helmet use was required by law, the number of these respondents reporting they would use a helmet nearly doubled (47 percent).
Investigators at the Center for Injury Research and Policy conducted the research with support from a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Medical Services, and the Ohio Emergency Medical Services Board.
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