ATLANTA, Ga. - Twenty-five percent of adolescents in the U.S. have ridden an ATV but less than half of them regularly wear helmets and a quarter never do, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.
"We found that the most frequent riders had the lowest consistent helmet use," epidemiologist at the CDC in Atlanta and study coauthor Bethany West told Reuters Health. ATVs are most popular among rural youth, but those are also the users least likely to wear a helmet, the study authors said.
The last study to assess helmet use among young ATV riders was in 2001. West and Ruth Shults of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control updated the research by analyzing responses to a 2011 online survey of 831 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 about their health-related beliefs and behaviors. Among the questions, children were asked how often they rode ATVs and whether they "always" or "not always" wore helmets while riding.
One quarter of the kids said they had ridden an ATV in the past year. Of those, twice as many lived outside a major metropolitan area, according to the results published online June 10 in the journal Injury Prevention.
Only 45 percent of kids who had ridden in the past year said they always wore a helmet and 25 percent said they never did. Among the kids who had ridden six or more times in the past year, 8 in 10 said they didn't always wear a helmet.
The survey participants may not perfectly represent their age group nationwide, the authors caution, but they do "closely approximate" the U.S. census population, so the results provide an estimate of how many kids are using ATVs and how they're using them.
In 2011, an estimated 29,000 children were hospitalized because of ATV-related injuries, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report.
West and Schults' report stresses the importance of helmet use and of communicating that to parents and young riders.
From the Dealernews wires