Over 230 ATV trauma patients seen at Children's Hospital in 3 years
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —
Doctors at Children's Hospital report an alarming number of severe ATV accidents. They're warning parents who may underestimate the power and speed of adult ATVs and let their kids ride them.
Pictures of 14-year-old Cole Jones in Children's Hospital are painful to look at, with his skull fractured and bruised and broken bones. "His head was cut so severely, we knew the impact was on his head," explains his mother, Hannah Donahue.
Fortunately Cole is making good progress although he has lost hearing in one ear and can never play contact sports like football again.
Donahue says Cole grew up riding four wheelers and motorcycles and had never had a problem before. "We took it for granted, riding in the yard around the house, not at ATV park where you might expect trouble," remarks Donahue.
Cole's near fatal ride last August was at a friend's house in Southside. He doesn't remember what happened. His friends found him in the road, and the ATV appeared to have rolled over. "It was totaled; the handle bars bent," says Cole. He wasn't wearing a helmet and was lifeflighted to Children's Hospital.
"Most parents don't realize how dangerous they are," warns Dr. Kristyn Jeffries. She says kids often can't handle the speed and power of an ATV. She knows the danger first hand. "I had a family friend who was 11 years old that passed away from a rollover injury," says Dr. Jeffries.
At Children's they've seen trauma victims as young as one year old. "We often see small children riding with parents and grandparents thrown off an ATV," explains Dr. Jeffries.
The statistics tell a sobering story. In 2016 there were more than 100,000 injuries nationwide on four wheelers. 26 percent of those were kids are under 16 years old. On average, 77 kids are killed every year. In Alabama, there were 39 deaths in a two year period. Two children were killed in August riding with an adult in Franklin County.
A common factor in injuries is when kids ride on adult ATVs which can weigh 600 pounds and run up to 65 miles per hour. With a high center of gravity, there is a high risk for roll-over crashes.
Cole says it will be a long time before he takes another ride.
Doctors and manufacturers recommend these five preventative actions:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Never have more than one rider on an ATV.
- Never drive an ATV on the road.
- Make sure the ATV is size appropriate.
- Do not allow kids under 16 to ride them.