ATV regulations needed across Canada to prevent youth injuries, group says

The Canadian Press
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TORONTO — Every year, 447 Canadian children under the age of 15 are hospitalized for all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries and the Canadian Paediatric Society says that number is on the rise.

“Those numbers continue to go up,” said Natalie Yanchar, chair of the society’s injury prevention committee.The society is calling for strict regulations prohibiting kids under 16 years of age from riding the four or six-wheeled vehicles until they are older, Yanchar said.

Legislation should be changed to make riders wear helmets and prohibit them from carrying a passenger on the vehicle, the organization said Wednesday in a statement.Territories and provinces across Canada do not have such legislation in place.

In British Columbia, there is no provincial legislation for riding ATVs, while legislation in Alberta states children under 14 years of age can only operate an ATV on public property while under the supervision of an adult.

Neither province requires riders to wear a helmet or take a safety training course.Stricter regulations in Nova Scotia require children between the ages of 14 and 15 to be under adult supervision while riding an ATV and the supervisor must have taken a safety training course.

Without uniform measures established across the country, riders will continue to be at high risk for injury, the society said.Kids and young adults between the ages of 10 and 25 are most at risk, but those under 16 are faced with different factors putting them at risk, Yanchar said.

“They have very poor judgement, are very prone to risk-taking, they don’t have the size and the strength to operate these vehicles safely,” she said, adding it’s easier for them to veer off the road and crash into a tree.

“As you get older, you have other risk-taking behaviours, such as use of alcohol and other drugs and that’s certainly one of the biggest factors.

”The industry and government have told riders for decades to wear helmets and not operate the vehicles with more than one person on them, but not doing anything about it won’t prevent severe injuries from happening, Yanchar said.

The CPS is also calling for all ATV riders to take a mandatory training course, but not until courses are evaluated to ensure they are producing safer riders.“We actually have no evidence training works,” said Yanchar.

“Training is probably important but it needs to be evaluated if it actually has an effect.

”Although the vehicles are equipped with air bags and seatbelts, the rate of injury continues to rise and the society is looking for a way to prevent young kids from getting on the ATVs in the first place.

“There’s such a small margin of error before the vehicle flips or you run into a truck,” she said, adding that error is even smaller for younger riders.“Nothing’s working and we see more and more injuries.”

Organizations: Canadian Paediatric Society

Geographic location: Canada, TORONTO, British Columbia Alberta Nova Scotia

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  • Kevin Hynes
    August 31, 2012 - 13:11

    If you ever want to see proof of the disregard for rules, police monitoring and parent irresponsibility all you need to do is come to Bishop's Falls on any day of the year..... There are more ATV's, all kid driven, on the roads then actual vehicles.... Unreal!!!

  • ATV User
    August 30, 2012 - 16:04

    Gee...whatever you do don't take away our "babysitters" while we are up to the cabin getting drunk. Parents supervising the kids - that is a new idea. Nopn-Supervised kids driving like idiots as fast as they can will be solved by stopping them from riding. I, with friends, enjoy our time in the woods with our ATV's but on every occassion there are these kids driving like nuts and it gives all a bad name! Daddy the great white hunter and outdoorsman will say it is great that Junior can go off in the woods but how many times do you see "Daddy" with him - my experience hardly ever!

  • willy
    August 30, 2012 - 13:23

    We rode our trail bikes in the east end of st. john's back in the 70's from daylight to dusk and later and I don't ever remember anybody ever going to hospital for an injury. What is wrong with people, I've noticed a lot of young people today are like idiots or something...like goofs...if they had to get on like they do now they would get beat up every day.

    • Speed kills
      August 31, 2012 - 08:40

      Your trail bike could not travel at the speed of the current machines. 4 wheelers, snowmobiles, trail bikes etc are now a lot faster and also ride far smoother. These accidents always happened, but when you increase the speed element, the amount of injuries and the severity of these injuries increases. That being said, we have a population of 7 billion on the world. random accidents will happen regardless of how much you try and regulate / restrict. There is a point where it makes sense and a point where it does not. unfortunately we have crossed into the not making sense point

  • ThisisAbsurd
    August 30, 2012 - 11:25

    On the Statistics Canada website, it shows that there in 2007, there were 5.4 million children in Canada under 15. If we take that stat for today, with 447 children hurt that would be less than 0.008% of children are getting hurt in Canada on ATV's under 15. Here in Newfoundland we already have this rule and I think it's safe to say, whatever rules are brought in there is a percentage that will not adhere to them. It's unfortunate that 1 child could get hurt by an ATV, but trying to regulate everything is totally absurd!!! There were probably way more kids than the 447 kids hurt playing unregulated softball, hockey, basketball, etc. in their backyards, should we ban all sports if not done so in accordance to strict regulations? Unbelievable!!!

    • Eli
      August 30, 2012 - 14:31

      Your contrasts don't add up.

  • Gerry
    August 30, 2012 - 10:19

    You know what? S** happens....I don't need another so-called do-gooder organization or government interferring more & more with the way I live & telling what the hell is good for my own sake. In some areas of Canada, you can't ride an ATV on your own property for crissakes! If it aint hurting anyone else, then leave me alone! I'm almost 50, never been charged, don't drink & drive: If I want to wear a hellmet, I'll wear a helmet, if my passenger is a consulting adult....Jesusmary&joseph, enough is enough already....

    • Johnny
      August 30, 2012 - 11:31

      I agree with Gerry. You what's funny, I have a 2006 Yamaha 4 wheel ATV with a 660 cubic inch engine. I have a factory made seat attached to the frame of this ATV with 4 U-bolts, but I can't drive my 8 and 11 year olds around my backyard or down a dirt trail legally. I also have an 83 motorcycle with a 500 cubic inch engine and I can legally drive my 8 and 11 year old down a highway going 100 KM/H !! I only do one of these activities, but I won't tell you which of these activities I do. Which do you think is safer to do?

    • Eli
      August 30, 2012 - 15:09

      ...and entry into your dimwit club is? You knocked yourself out when you used the word adult. The article is about underage minors, not nuthead operators.