ATV injuries climb threefold so far this year

Vermonters are advised to follow safety precautions while riding

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BURLINGTON — The University of Vermont Medical Center Emergency Department has seen the number of people treated for ATV injuries significantly increase this year through May - and is urging Vermonters to take safety precautions.

The total number of people treated for ATV injuries through May 31 is 17 - up from six in 2019 and four in 2018. The number of pediatric cases has jumped to five - up from average of less than one for the last two years. Additionally, alcohol appears to be a factor in about half of the adult cases. For this time period, helmet usage was low among those admitted to the trauma service for ATV related injuries: 25 percent in 2018, 33 percent in 2019 and 29 percent in 2020.

"The rise in ATV injuries this year is alarming. We are concerned that the numbers will continue to increase this summer unless our communities become aware of the issue and practice safe ridership," said Abby Beerman, an injury prevention coordinator at UVM Medical Center.

Here are some tips for staying safe while riding an ATV:

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- Always Wear a Helmet: Riders should wear a DOT-compliant helmet that is properly fitted at all times, even when traveling short distances. We recommend putting the helmet on before getting onto the ATV and removing the helmet once you are fully off the vehicle.

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- Fit the ATV to the Rider: If riding a two-person ATV, ensure that both individuals are old enough to safely ride and are wearing the proper safety equipment. ATVs come in different sizes so they can be safely ridden and controlled by their user. Children should never drive a full-size ATV.

- Know Where You are Riding: There are public ATV trails in our region, such as VASA trails in Vermont. If you are riding on private trails or on private property, check for hazards and risks such as laundry lines, cables blocking off trails, or ditches. Doing a safety check every spring after the snow melts and periodically throughout the summer can keep all riders safer. The only time an ATV should be on a road is to cross it. Cross the road in locations where it is safe to do so and you have good visibility of oncoming traffic from both directions.

- Supervise Young Riders: ATVs may be fun to ride, but they are not toys. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children who are too young to have a driver's license not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles. If you do choose to allow a child under the age of 16 to drive or ride, they should always be supervised by an adult and should only use an ATV that is properly sized for them. The supervising adult can ensure that helmets are worn at all times and that safe driving behaviors are practiced.

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- Dress for the Ride: Besides a properly fitted helmet, riders should wear long pants, over-the-ankle boots, long sleeves, gloves, and goggles. Clothing should be well-fitted to limit the risk of it catching on surfaces or objects.

- Take a Safety Class: Whether you are new to ATVs or have been riding them for decades, it is always a good idea to take a safety course. You may learn new and important safety information. There are ATV safety courses available online or in-person for all ages.

- Stay Alert, Stay Connected: Whenever you use an ATV, take a fully charged cell phone with you and ensure that all riders are clear headed so that you can respond quickly if an emergency occurs. If an individual is injured while using an ATV, seek professional medical guidance or call 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.


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