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Got Wheels?--Adolescent Exposure to All-Terrain Vehicles and Their Driving Practices

Friday, October 19, 2012
Room R06-R09 (Morial Convention Center)
Charles A. Jennissen, MD, FACEP1, Gerene M. C. Denning1, Kristel M. Wetjen2, Jeffrey H. Peck3, Karisa K. Harland1 and Pamela Hoogerwerf4, (1)Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Children's Hospital and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, (2)Department of Surgery, University of Iowa Children's Hospital and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, (3)U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coralville Lake, Iowa City, IA, (4)Patient and Family Centered Services, University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Iowa City, IA

Purpose: All-terrain vehicle (ATV)-related injuries have almost tripled in the past decade and residents in rural communities and large suburban acreages suffer the brunt of this problem.  More children die each year in the United States from ATVs than from bicycle crashes.  However, the degree of adolescent exposure to ATVs is currently unknown.  The purpose of this study was to determine the degree of young adolescent exposure to ATVs and their operating practices, and to measure their knowledge of several key ATV safety issues.

Methods: Students at thirteen rural and urban Iowa schools attending an ATV safety educational program that targeted 12-15 year olds were surveyed. An audience response system was utilized to obtain demographic information, and determine ATV exposure, behaviors, and safety knowledge. 

Results: 1,889 surveys were analyzed.  86% reported riding on an ATV at least a few times a year and 31% stated they ride an ATV at least once a week.  Of those who reported having been on an ATV, 94% had ridden with more than one person and 81% had been on a public road.  Nearly two-thirds of those riding ATVs reported they never or almost never wear a helmet.  61% of those with riding exposure had been in an ATV crash (rolled over, fallen off, or hit something).  On the three knowledge questions, the percentages of students with correct scores were 52%, 27% and 46%.

Conclusion: Adolescents in Iowa have a high exposure to ATV riding. Most youth in the study demonstrated some ATV safety knowledge deficiency, practiced unsafe behaviors, and had experienced a crash. Given the high exposure of many children to ATVs and the significant morbidity of crashes, ATV injury prevention anticipatory guidance should be a greater priority for many primary care providers, especially those serving rural areas.