A Sunday ATV crash in Knox County that injured three boys raises questions about the potential dangers of the vehicles, especially among children.
"Just like any power sport, you get in a car, you treat it with respect. You get on anything with an engine, you treat it with respect," said Doug Silvera, with Topside Powersports in Louisville.
There are two things to keep in mind when a youngster operates an ATV on state land in Tennessee.
- Anyone at any age can ride and operate one, but you're encouraged to follow the recommended age listed on the vehicle. 31 other states in America have age requirements.
- If you're under 18 and riding on public land, you are required to wear a helmet. That was first enacted in 2007.
"Usually, the child has been ejected by the ATV. We're looking at head injuries, abdomen injuries and extremity injuries," said Dr. Heather Edgely with East Tennessee Children's Hospital. From late summer to fall, she usually sees the largest number of these related injuries.
She recommended that youngsters steer clear of all-terrain vehicles until they reach a mature age.
"The most important thing I would say to prevent ATV injuries is to not ride one," Dr. Edgely said.
Silvera said that's easier said than done, especially with the vehicles' following in rural East Tennessee.
"It's actually really huge in this area; we're about 25 minutes from Windrock, so there's a whole bunch of people who use ATVs in this area," he said.
Several University of Tennessee extension agencies offer ATV safety classes. Contact your county extension for further information.