Investigators

Charles Jennissen
The University of Iowa
Department of Emergency Medicine
Gerene Denning
The University of Iowa
Department of Emergency Medicine
Kari Harland
The University of Iowa
Department of Emergency Medicine

Final Report Summary

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Project

Community-Based Education and Public Awareness for All-Terrain Vehicle and Side-by-Side Safety to Reduce Roadway Deaths and Injuries

For decades, United States (U.S.) deaths and injuries from all-terrain vehicle (ATV) crashes have been a significant public health and safety concern. More recently, there has been a marked increase in sales of off-road vehicles generically called side-by-sides (SxSs) and consequently, a growing number of SxS-related deaths and injuries. Despite manufacturer and expert warnings, over half of all fatal crashes each year occur on the road. More disturbingly, there is a growing trend for states, counties and cities to pass laws/ordinances that increase roadway access for ATVs and SxSs. Abundant evidence illustrates the lack of a safety culture around these off-road vehicles. This evidence includes epidemiologic data showing that riders in both fatal and non-fatal ATV and SxS crashes commonly engage in multiple risky behaviors, like riding on the road, operation of adult models by youth, carrying passengers on single-person ATVs, and lack of helmet (ATVs and SxSs) and seatbelt use (SxSs). Survey studies of ATV users support epidemiologic studies, namely, large majorities of riders report engaging in one or more of these unsafe riding practices. The high prevalence of unsafe behaviors is likely due to many factors, including widespread lack of ATV safety knowledge among users. In addition, ATV safety laws vary considerably from state to state and when surveyed, many users do not know these laws. As mentioned above, over the last decade, there has been a growing trend of elected bodies at the local and state levels passing anti-safety laws and ordinances to allow off-road vehicles on the road for recreational purposes. These public policy makers for the most part are not familiar with or choose to under-estimate the dangers of riding ATVs and SxSs on the road. It is also not clear whether law enforcement knows of existing laws related to off-road vehicles and enforcement of these laws may be limited. Overall, it is this significant lack of knowledge and understanding of ATV and SxS safety that provides the rationale for the educational and outreach efforts described in this proposal.