Doctors urge safety when riding ATVs

Published On: Jun 11 2012 01:49:31 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 11 2012 01:51:36 PM CDT
HOUSTON -

While often used for work on farms and ranches, many people, including children, take all-terrain vehicles out for a spin.

These ATVs are only getting bigger and faster, and they are increasingly the cause of trips to the hospitals and, in some cases, even death.

Typical ATVs can weigh up to 600 pounds. They race over uneven ground at speeds as high as 70 mph. At that rate, ATVs are known to roll over and riders are thrown off.

Kade Worsham, 16, was trying to kick-start his family's broken three-wheeler on their four-acre ranch in Pleasant Hill.

"It was pretty bad. He and the three-wheeler were wrapped up in the gate and he was hanging off the gate," his father, Billy Jack Worsham, said.

His dad called 911.

On the way to the hospital, Kade's breathing stopped. Once stabilized, he was flown to Texas Children's Hospital's Trauma Center with several skull fractures.

Grayson Singer, 7, spent four days in the Texas Children's Hospital Pediatric Care Unit for a punctured lung and broken ribs. He was a passenger on an ATV and was flipped off as they tried to avoid a dog.

"That's what we do for fun, so I never imagined he could be hurt like that," his mother, Carla Singer, said.

Pediatric surgeon Dr. Mark Mazziotti has seen first-hand how ATVs can cause horrific injuries or worse.

"Several patients don't make it to the hospital. The worse case-scenario was death. There were several children killed last year from ATV accidents," said Mazziotti.

ATV injuries are six times more likely to result in hospitalization and 12 times more likely to lead to death than bicycle riding.

Last year at Texas Children's Hospital, 26 children were hospitalized because of ATV accidents, and doctors expect those numbers to rise this summer.

Mazziotti says ATV riders should wear a helmet at all times around ATVs, even if they are just sitting on it.

He also said adult supervision is critical.

In Texas, state law requires that children under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian while riding an ATV.