With an uptick in trauma-related children’s injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg, Shared Health Manitoba is encouraging people to take precautions when riding them this summer. 

Since mid-March, HSC Children’s emergency department has treated 20 patients under 18 for ATV-related injuries, including fractures of the skull, spine, pelvis and jaw. Sixteen of 20 patients were believed to have not been wearing helmets at the time of the injury. 

“We are currently treating children with a number of serious injuries sustained from unsafe or unsupervised ATV use, including spinal and skull fractures,” said Dr. Karen Gripp, medical director of HSC Children’s emergency department. “It is absolutely devastating for our care teams when they receive young patients that are seriously injured, particularly when it is the result of something that could have been easily prevented if they had been driving safely and wearing a helmet.” 

In the fiscal year of 2021 to 2022, 176 children and youth were treated for ATV-related injuries. A third were injuries serious enough and needed admission to the hospital. National statistics show more than a third of ATV-related deaths in Canada are children and youth under 16 years old despite accounting for a small fraction of overall ATV ridership. 

They remind everyone that, in Manitoba, children under 14 are not permitted to operate ATVs unless supervised, accompanied by and at all times within clear view of a parent or a person who is at least 18 years old and authorized by the parent. All riders must wear properly fastened safety helmets. 

“Summer is a great time of year when all of us should get outside and have fun. But there is nothing fun about visiting an emergency department,” said Gripp. “We encourage everyone operating an ATV to do so safely – and to wear a helmet every time.”