Do you think Canada is behind the US in these types of discussions, or are they the front-runners here and this reflect what-is-yet-to-come for us?The Canadian Press wrote: Time to assess ATV safety following spike in injury rates: doctor
19 hours ago
FREDERICTON - A doctor who has seen more than her share of young people killed in accidents involving snowmobiles, dirt-bikes and other off-road vehicles says it is time for Canada to assess whether the machines represent an unacceptable risk for recreational users.
Dr. Natalie Yanchar, director of trauma care at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, said Thursday she was not surprised by a new report that shows a 25 per cent increase in the number of people hospitalized from the mid-1990s to 2005.
The report, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, says that all-terrain vehicles, otherwise known as ATVs or four-wheelers, are behind the sharp increase because the number of hospitalizations stemming from snowmobile accidents actually dropped 20 per cent over that period.
The report found that teenagers and young adults, mostly male, are bearing the brunt of the accidents, with adolescents aged 15 to 19 sustaining the largest proportion of injuries. They are followed closely by young adults, aged 20 to 24.
"There has to be an examination as to whether these are safe products for recreational activities in Canada," said Yanchar, whose trauma centre treats injured children from around the Maritimes.
"Federally, we have to look at this. Is it an acceptable risk?"
The report says most hospitalizations caused by accidents on off-road vehicles and snowmobiles involve multiple injuries.
Nearly one in five off-road vehicle-related hospitalizations involve injuries to the head, while those admitted for a snowmobile-related injury are more likely to suffer from a fractured vertebra, rib or sternum.
Yanchar said the head and spinal injuries are particularly devastating and cost the Canadian health-care system millions of dollars, not to mention the untold suffering of the individuals and their families.
She said that in addition to the injuries, between 140 and 180 Canadians are killed each year in off-road and snowmobile accidents.
"I'm not saying we should bubble wrap our kids," Yanchar said.
"You have to let them take some risk because it's part of growing up. However, we have to decide how much risk is acceptable. So having 800 Canadians killed on these machines in five years, is that acceptable or is that too much risk? . . . As recreational vehicles, they're dangerous products."
Several provinces, including Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have recently tightened legislation governing ATV use by children, and Nova Scotia has seen a drop in injury rates since making the change.
In New Brunswick, new provisions limiting children under 14 to only closed track driving have yet to be proclaimed. Government officials expect them to be in force by next spring.
The changes in New Brunswick followed two tragic deaths in 2005. In one case, a 10-year-old boy in western New Brunswick died after the four-wheeler he was driving flipped over and pinned him.
Just two weeks earlier, a 13-year-old girl was killed in a similar accident in northern New Brunswick.
Despite the deaths and the grim statistics, ATV enthusiasts in New Brunswick remain convinced that it is better to let children drive the machines to gain experience.
"You can't take a kid at 16 years, sit him on an 800 cc machine and say, 'There you go'," said Troy Gallagher of the Grand Lake ATV Club near Fredericton. =D>
"These laws are taking away the opportunity for young kids to learn the proper stuff."
Gallagher said one of the big problems lies in the manufacture of the off-road vehicles, which are becoming bigger, heavier and more powerful.
"When you're out doing a trail ride,you're not going any faster than 30 or 35 kilometres an hour through the woods," he said.
"Well, these machines now are equipped to go up over 100 kilometres. They're getting so big and so high, if they tip over, they're heavy and a lot of people get pinned under them . . . It has to come back to proper training."
The institute states that in accidents where blood-alcohol levels were checked, 27 per cent involved people whose blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit of .08 per cent.
More than 90 per cent of injured people whose blood alcohol level was over the limit were drivers of the off-road vehicle.
The institute states that while off-road vehicles are an important part of rural life, they need to be used with care.
"In many rural and remote communities across the country, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles are used not only for recreation, but also as an essential mode of transportation," said Margaret Keresteci, the institute's manager of clinical registries.
"These machines can reach high speeds and often travel on rough terrain, so the impact of a fall or a collision can be quite dramatic."
One thing for sure, none of this is type of Press is good for the Canadian ATV / OHV Community!