ATV Injuries and Prevention

ATVThe following article was published in the summer 2007 issue of UW Health's Level One newsletter for emergency medicine health professionals:
Use of all terrain vehicles (ATVs) in rural and recreational areas continues to rise. Emergency care providers need to play a role in injury prevention. Most ATV accidents can be prevented with proper education and training.
The Mechanism of Injury
The 2006 Wisconsin DNR Annual ATV Program Report identified the two leading causes of fatal ATV incidents to be rollovers and collisions with other vehicles. Other common mechanisms of injury result from lack of experience or losing control of the ATV and include:
  • Ejections
  • Falls
  • Collision with fixed objects

Life-threatening injuries include significant head, facial, chest, spinal cord and orthopedic trauma. 61% of reported fractures are classified as open or


Alcohol intoxication continues to be associated with the majority of fatalities. Data from the 2006 Wisconsin DNR Annual Report revealed alcohol use as a contributing factor in 56% of the fatal accidents and lack of helmet use in 77% of these incidents.


Prevention Efforts and Education


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission - in conjunction with the 4-H Council, NASCAR legend Richard Petty and ATV racing champion John Natalie - have launched a major campaign to "drive down deaths and serious injuries associated with all terrain vehicles."


It is important to educate your community on injury prevention DO's and Do NOT's.



  • DO wear a helmet
    DO wear long-sleeved shirt/jacket, long pants and nonskid boots
  • DO take an ATV safety course
  • DO know the terrain


  • Do NOT allow a child to operate or ride on an adult-size ATV
  • Do NOT ride tandem on a one-person ATV
  • Do NOT ride alone
  • Do NOT ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol

- Andrea L. Williams, PhD, RN
Trauma Program Manager,
UW Level I Trauma Center