ATVs are not child's play: Ontario's doctors

    Children under fourteen should not operate ATVs

    TORONTO, Sept. 2 /CNW/ - Ontario's doctors want the last long weekend of
summer to be a safe one for all, but are sounding the alarm about children's
use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). In a report released today, the Ontario
Medical Association (OMA) has found that ATVs pose a significant, but
avoidable risk of injury and death to children.
    "As physicians, we are seeing far too many children with serious injuries
caused by the use of ATVs," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the OMA.
"Ontario's doctors firmly believe that there is nothing more important than
protecting the health and safety of children in the province."
    According to the most recent statistics:

    -  In 2004/05 there were nearly 3,000 people hospitalized as a result of
       ATV-related injuries;
    -  Of those that were hospitalized, 1/3 were aged 5 - 19;
    -  In 2005/06, 5,584 Ontarians went to the Emergency Department with an
       ATV-related injury; and
    -  From 1985-2007, 28% of total U.S. ATV-related fatalities were children
       under 16 years old and 12% were children younger than 12 years old.
       (Consumer Products Safety Commission)

    The OMA report also shows that the increased risk for injury in children
is due to their lack of physical and cognitive ability to operate ATVs.
Research demonstrates that ATVs require considerable muscle strength, as well
as proficient cognitive, motor and coordination skills, and experience in
making split-second judgements; generally these skills are underdeveloped or
critically lacking in children.
    There are some existing restrictions on the use of ATVs by children in
Ontario, but they alone do not sufficiently protect children in many settings
in which these machines are used. In order to help significantly reduce the
rate of ATV injuries in children, the OMA recommends:

    -  That children under the age of 14, not be permitted to operate All
       Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) of any size within the province of Ontario;
    -  That youth aged 14 to 16 be permitted to ride only power-restricted
       vehicles that cannot exceed 30 km/hour;
    -  That the province ensure that any ATV legislation protecting children
       include provisions to ensure that this applies to public and private
    -  That ATV manufacturers respond to medical community concerns and
       voluntarily discontinue their marketing to children without waiting
       for legislative restrictions on such activity to be passed into law;
    -  That government approved helmets be compulsory for all ATV users.

    "The risks and dangers that children face when they operate an ATV are
overwhelming and can't be ignored any longer," said Brian Patterson, President
of the Ontario Safety League. "That's why the Ontario Safety League fully
supports the OMA's recommendations to strengthen existing ATV legislation and
we hope to see swift implementation of these long overdue regulations."
    "It is frightening that it is perfectly legal for a child as young as
five to drive an ATV, on any field or path, at virtually any speed." Dr.
Strasberg said. "That is why existing legislation in Ontario must be
strengthened to help prevent avoidable ATV-related injuries and deaths among

For further information:

For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or
toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

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Ontario Medical Association

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