Toronto, Ontario – All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are powerful machines that are beyond the skill level of children and youth, according to brain and spinal cord injury prevention association ThinkFirst Canada, which is warning parents not to teach their children to ride them.

“The truth is that ATVs cause more permanent disabilities and death than most other sport or recreational activities,” said Dr. Charles Tator, a brain surgeon and founder of ThinkFirst Canada. “Children and youth lack the knowledge, development and skills to safely operate these vehicles. ATV use by children has resulted in serious injury and death.”

In 2000 and 2001, severe injuries related to ATV use accounted for 13 per cent of all severe injuries sustained through sports and recreational activities, making them the third most common cause of severe injuries in the segment. There were 16 ATV-related deaths in Ontario both in 2004 and 2005, the majority due to brain or spinal injuries.

In addition to vehicle size and rider age, alcohol and lack of equipment are documented factors in ATV injuries.

ThinkFirst Canada recommends that children under the age of 16 should not operate any type of ATV, and that anyone using an ATV, regardless of age, should require mandatory safety training and helmet use. ATVs can reach up to 105 km/h and can weigh up to 227 kg.

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