All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) enjoy great popularity with many Arkansans who use them for farming, hunting and recreation. But riding or operating an ATV comes with a substantial risk of serious injury. As a way of increasing awareness of the risks posed to children and teens, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe has declared April as ATV Safety Awareness Month.

In 2012, Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) admitted 95 children with ATV-related injuries. Ages of children involved ranged from six months to 21 years. Injuries occurred in counties all over Arkansas with injuries including concussions (i.e. brain injury), spinal fractures, fractures of arms, legs and pelvis and serious internal injuries. Sadly, some of these injuries resulted in death.

According to the Children’s Safety Network, those under 16 years of age are four times more likely to sustain ATV-related injuries that require a visit to the emergency department than riders 16 and older. Factors such as children’s physical size, strength, coordination and maturity level can lead to unsafe situations.

Several counties are participating in this year’s ATV Safety Awareness Month: Baxter, Boone/Newton (jointly), Crawford/Sebastian, Craighead, Faulkner, Drew/Cleveland and Howard Counties. Activities include: speaking engagements on safety in targeted areas; partnering with ATV dealerships to increase awareness; distribution of ATV safety material in local schools; and distribution of ATV toolkits, which are designed to educate those who wish to train others on ATV safety. This year’s focus is on riders using appropriate-sized ATVs.

"I was not aware of the declaration, but I would have to say that it is," said Lt. Carl Minden, public information officer for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, commenting if the use of ATV poses a problem in Pulaski. "Each year we respond to several calls for ATV accidents in Pulaski County. Unfortunately, we end up working some as a fatality."

"I don’t believe this has been an issue for us," said Sgt. Brian Dedrick of the North Little Rock Police Department.

Sherwood Police Chief Jim Bedwell added, "It is not a big problem in our city. It is more of a problem in the county."

April Kiser, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, said the issue of ATV use is not a problem in her city.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no one under the age of 16 ride or operate an ATV. However, recognizing that many parents in Arkansas choose to allow children to ride these vehicles, the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital recommends the following safety tips:

— Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of death in a crash by almost half.

— Children should not ride adult-sized ATVs.

— Ride without passengers. Most ATVs are designed for single riders only.

— ATVs are not designed to be operated on paved roadways and should only be ridden off road.

— Get hands-on training on how to operate an ATV safely and correctly. Training is offered free of charge by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Contact Jack Boles, ATV instructor for Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, at or (501) 671-2352. Additional information may be found at or

For more information on ATV safety or to request a free ATV safety toolkit to be used in your community, contact the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital by phone at (866) 611-3445 or by email Or contact Lacye Vance, recreational safety analyst with the Statewide Injury Prevention Program, at (501) 364-3395 or

Families and educators may also want to check out and share a PSA about ATVs produced by ACH. It is available at

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 370 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children’s health and development. For more information, visit

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or