Safety concerns heightened after 8-year-old girl dies in ATV accident

Recent ATV accident heightens safety concerns

BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) - A recent all-terrain vehicle accident over the weekend is causing concern over the wildly popular ATVs.

Studies show there were more than 97,000 injuries in 2015. An estimated 28 percent of those injuries involved children under the age of 16.

An 8-year-old girl died Saturday night after an ATV accident at a Jefferson County park. While riding with family the ATV flipped over, pinning her underneath. According to officers, the young girl wasn't wearing a helmet.

"Last year in 2016, Arkansas Children's Hospital admitted around 50 patients,” said Joe Schaffner, an Outreach Specialist in the Injury Prevention Center at ACH.

They might be built for fun, but they aren't toys. ATVs offer little to no safety features and can be dangerous too.

“Riding on the racks can cause bodily harm, just sitting on a metal pole is not good for you." said Bryant Phillips, an assistant manager at KB's Outdoor Powersports in Benton. "Also, you're more likely to fall off rather than someone who's holding on to the handle bars driving.”

Schaffner said on average, the hospital sees about 100 injuries a year.

"The ATVs are rider active machines. The user needs to be able to stand up, sit down, or hang to the side,” he said.

They're also designed to be driven mainly in dirt fields, not gravel, pavement, or water.

“Make sure you're not being crazy or driving stupid,” said Phillips.

ATV accidents and deaths are more common than you think. Phillips has seen and heard it all.

“It’s horrible to hear, but we see people come in all the time and tell us they've had a wreck or have injured themselves. I personally know some people that have had very bad injuries that caused death,” Phillips added.

The balloon-like tires may feed your need for speed, but there are safety guidelines all riders need to remember.

“One of the most important safety features you can wear is a helmet. Protect your head, but also wear gloves, closed toed shoes, long sleeves, and jeans,” said Schaffner.

Making sure your helmet fits is just as important as wearing one. These units should be taken just as serious as a vehicle.

“On every single seat it tells you not to have any passengers, its illegal. It also tells you not to have alcoholic beverages or drugs on the unit,” Phillips said.

Jesie Bosnick with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office wants everyone to know there are free ATV safety classes out there that provide helmets, goggles, gloves, and four wheelers for practice.

Classes are available in every county in the state. Contact your local extension office for information.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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