Surprise: tots tend to hit trouble on farm bikes

Looks like some farm parents should buck up their ideas.

Alf is perturbed to learn that children as young as two are being injured while driving all-terrain vehicles.

No, not simply sitting on them. Driving the bloody things.

Kate Anson, a former New Zealand researcher now working in Australia, has studied deaths and injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which can have three or four wheels and are also known as farm bikes or quad bikes.

Between 2000 and 2006, 212 Kiwi children were hospitalised after ATV accidents. There are no laws restricting children’s use of the vehicles.

More than half of the injured children were driving at the time of the accident, and the youngest driver was just two years old. Only 14 per cent had been wearing a helmet.

Anson notes that the average age of injured Kiwi children is younger than in other countries and points out the obvious: “Riding an ATV requires the same or greater skill, judgment and experience as for driving a car. Many children do not have the weight, strength, or co-ordination to safely control an ATV.”

So she is calling for fresh debate over compulsory guidelines.

The story at Stuff cites ACC figures showing a further 300 children have been injured in ATV accidents between 2006 and 2008.

And –

Waikato University researcher Maxine Campbell said she has been wanting tougher rules since the 2005 death of four-year-old Molly Vanner, who was crushed while driving on her own on her parents’ farm in Taranaki.

However, some parents see quad biking as a safe way for children to learn vital driving skills. Mark Hourigan whose three-year-old son Oliver was hit by a quad bike driven by girl aged 5 near Turangi has no qualms about Oliver, now 6, being in control of a vehicle.

“It teaches good braking and acceleration, and he’s good at following instructions now,” Mr Hourigan said.

“The other option is to wrap them up in cotton wool.”
However, Oliver, who spent two days in hospital after his head was split open in the accident, is not allowed on his 50cc bike without a helmet, gloves, boots and plastic “body armour” suit.

Kate Anson investigated 212 accidents involving children and ATVs. She found:

Boys were injured twice as often as girls.

The average age of the injured children was 9.8 years.
Seventeen children required admission to intensive care.

Ten children suffered skull fractures and a further 10 suffered facial fractures.

Six children suffered permanent disabilities, including blindness, brain injury and amputation.

Fifteen died.

Could be a more fertile domain for concern than child smacking.

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