Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Although driving ATVs (all terrain vehicles or 4-wheelers) allows children to practice their driving skills, the activity may be too dangerous for most kids and pre-teens.
Consider the following:
In 2006, 39,300 children under the age of 16 were treated in emergency rooms for ATV accident-related injuries. The same year, 111 children under the age of 16 were killed in ATV accidents.
Wearing a helmet while riding an ATV reduces the risk of fatal head injury by 42 percent, and the risk of nonfatal head injuries by 64 percent. But helmets can't protect against other common injuries like spinal cord, chest and abdominal damage.
Use the following guidelines to keep your kids safe:
Make sure your child always wears a helmet - Use a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet with face protection. Long sleeve shirts and pants should also be worn.
Only allow 16-year-olds to drive - young children have slow response times and less coordination than older children. If you allow a child younger than 16 to drive, ride with them.
Make sure the ATV is the right size for your child - If you choose to let your child ride, limit all rides to youth-sized ATVs. Manufacturers' guidelines state that children under 16 should operate ATVs with engines smaller than 90 cc. Children ages 6 to 12 should operate ATVs with engines smaller than 70 cc.
Don Keenan, founder of the Keenan's Kids Foundation, has published a book on kid's safety titled, 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe, which is available at www.balloonpress.com or at www.amazon.com. Proceeds benefit the Keenan's Kids Foundation.