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Newspaper Press Clippings As a Surveillance Source of All-Terrain Vehicle Crashes and Fatalities

Monday, October 22, 2012: 10:30 AM
Versailles Ballroom (Hilton Riverside)
Charles A. Jennissen, MD, FACEP1, Gretchen McCall1, Suleimaan Waheed1, Suhas Channappa2 and Gerene M. C. Denning1, (1)Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Children's Hospital and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, (2)Department of Emergency Medicine, Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University/Sinai Grace Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program, Detroit, MI

Purpose: All-terrain vehicle (ATV) injury surveillance is extremely challenging and crash data must be collected from many sources. Many ATV-related deaths never reach an Emergency Department and are missed by hospital-based surveillance. Newspaper reports are an untapped resource to investigate factors surrounding ATV crashes. The purpose of this study was to determine the information available in newspaper reports of ATV fatalities and their usefulness in crash surveillance.

Methods: ATV crash newspaper reports were collected prospectively via press clipping services for nine Midwest/Great Plains states in 2009 and 2010. Event circumstances were analyzed. Data was compared to that available from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

Results: Press clippings captured over 90% of state fatalities as reported by the CPSC. ATV-related fatalities were 84% males, and 16% were children under 16 years. Approximately 1 in 4 victims were wearing a helmet. The majority of crashes (52%) occurred during compromised light conditions (dusk/night/dawn). Over half occurred on Saturday and Sunday. More than 1 in 10 fatal crashes involved vehicle-vehicle collisions (15%) or being pinned by the vehicle (11%). For over 90% of crash victims, newspaper reports provided age, gender, seating position, time/day of the event, type of path (road, trail, or off-road), and surface type. Vehicle-related parameters (e.g., vehicle model, engine size), speed at the time of the event, and weather conditions were poorly documented. Annual fatality rates were higher than the overall average (1.0 deaths/100,000 rural population) for MN (1.2), MO (1.3), NE (1.4), and ND (1.4).

Conclusion: Newspapers comprehensively capture ATV-related deaths in multiple states and provide information not readily available from other sources. Although limitations exist, press clippings could be a valuable source of information for an integrated ATV surveillance database.