Golf carts and ATVs have become a popular mode of transportation and recreation for children and young teens.

“We see a spike with child injuries on golf carts and ATVs after Memorial Day and throughout the summer months,” said Renée McCabe, RN, Injury Prevention and Safety Program Manager at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Because four-wheeled motorized vehicles require skill and quick thinking, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under 16, who are too young to have a driver’s license, should not be allowed to operate or ride off-road vehicles.

“More kids die on ATVs than bicycle crashes,” McCabe said. “In 2015, at least 73 children younger than 16 died and 26,000 were seriously injured by ATVs. More than 1,000 people are injured every month on golf carts, and the majority of these injuries are to children and teens.”

Both of these vehicles have a higher center of gravity and can tip over easily. In addition, they are not meant for public roadways and this is where the majority of injuries occur. ATVs off-road tires grab paved surfaces unevenly and golf carts don’t have seat belts and are difficult for other vehicles to see.  Injuries include bruises, fractures, injuries to the pelvis and spine, concussions and other head injuries.

If you do allow your children under 16 to ride an ATV, the AAP urges you to follow these safety rules:

• Riders should always wear motorcycle-style helmets that are approved by the Department of Transportation, eye protection, sturdy shoes (no flip-flops), and protective, reflective clothing.

• Don’t ride double. Passengers are frequently injured when riding ATVs and can make them unstable and difficult to control.

• All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course.

  Stay off public roads.

  Do not allow children to drive an adult model ATV, which can reach speeds up to 80 mph.  Their size and speed make them too dangerous for kids to drive.

  Never allow nighttime riding.

• Do not drive ATVs while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even some prescription medications.

• If you are buying an ATV, choose one with a seat belt, roll-bar, engine covers and a speed limiting device.

To stay safe on golf carts:

• Don’t let children younger than 16 drive golf carts unsupervised.

• Don’t overload with passengers or equipment.

• Don’t let children ride in your lap.

• Don’t allow anyone to ride standing in the vehicle or on the back platform.

• Avoid sharp turns.

• Keep arms and legs inside the cart.

• Sit back in the seat and wear seat belts when available.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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