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ATV accidents in juveniles rising

Experts say ATV riders should think first before putting the key into the ignition. (Source:...
Experts say ATV riders should think first before putting the key into the ignition. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 3:08 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - With schools closed, it seems summer has started early this year and despite the label on ATVs stating those under the age of sixteen should never operate one, many still do.

Dr. Jon Gray, Emergency Medical Department Director for Lake Charles Memorial Director explained ATV accidents can be much worse than a few cuts or bruises.

“Some of those are for head injuries and head injuries kind of vary," Dr. Gray said. "Sometimes it’s a surgical intervention that needs to take place. We also have seen some spine fractures that leave kids partially paralyzed.”

Since the stay-at-home order, he’s seen an increase of children injured in ATV accidents, even at night.

“We’ve had about a seventy-five percent increase in the past two months with ATV accidents, so a significant number," Gray said. "There has been about eighteen percent more pediatric admissions due to ATV trauma.”

But there aren’t many laws about ATVs or age of operation, according to Commander James McGee at the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“The law is, an all-terrain vehicle is not allowed on the roadway," Cmdr. McGee said. "An all-terrain vehicle is only allowed on the roadway under specific guidelines for farmers. And they’re very specific of where they can use them, what equipment they have to have, and that is what the state law is.”

Beyond what the state law is, there’s not much that can be regulated by law enforcement.

“We’re not going on private property regulating people’s go-karts or ATVs," McGee said. "Now, we are regulating them if they’re on the public roadway but we’re not regulating on private property that’s where the personal responsibility and parental responsibility comes in.”

That personal responsibility can help decrease the numbers.

“It’s a good time to teach safety as far as wearing helmets, safety harnesses, you know maintaining your speed," Gray said. "When you think about the quality of life that could be affected by careless operation of these vehicles, it makes you kind of step back and say ‘hey, we do need to educate our children better.’”

Both Dr. Gray and the Sheriff’s Office recommend those wanting to drive an ATV follow all the guidelines given by the manufacturer.

AT YOUR SERVICE, RANIA KAUR, KPLC 7 NEWS. Copyright 2020 KPLC. All rights reserved.