ATV Safety Summit: State Legislation: Effecting Change - Off the Beaten Path


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Lewis Howe, Executive Director of The Safety Institute Inc., presented this at CPSC's ATV Safety Summit Oct. 11, 2012. In 2010, Massachusetts enacted Sean's Law, an ATV management statute that contains the following requirement: No person under 14 years of age shall operate a recreation utility vehicle or an all-terrain vehicle. This is the first statute in the nation to set this age requirement for ATV ridership. The Massachusetts law may be a model for some states, but may not be feasible in others. This presentation will address why the Massachusetts law was enacted as well as post-enactment issues. The presentation will also cover The Safety Institute's efforts working with researchers, survivors, physicians and advocates across the country to continue to devise sound strategies for reducing ATV injuries.

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ATV Safety Summit: State Legislation: Effecting Change - Off the Beaten Path

  1. 1. Off the Beaten PathMassachusetts’ ATV safety law Lewis C. Howe, Executive Director The Safety Institute, Inc.Consumer Product Safety Commission Oct.11, 2012
  2. 2. TSI’s interest in ATVsThe Safety Institute emphasizes injury prevention and product safetyas an important basis for a healthy and productive society and as avital component to reducing health care costs.The TSI’s Survivors Network provides guidance and support tosurvivors and their families following catastrophic injury. In addition itadvocates for the prevention of injuries and promotes product safety.Members include Concerned Families for ATV Safety; and the SeanKearney Foundation.
  3. 3. ATVs are not for kids – A deadly threat: Between 1995 and 2005, ATVs killed at least 1,218 children under age 16. These children account for 27 percent of all ATV-related deaths during this period. (Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2005 Annual Report of All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)-Related Deaths and Injuries) ATVs roll over easily ATVs are not meant for passengers ATVs can weigh up to 800 pounds Uneven terrain or unforeseen obstacles can easily cause anATV to roll over.
  4. 4. A Landmark LawLanguage of “Sean’s Law” (Chapter 202 of Massachusetts Acts of 2010)Section 26. (a) (1) No person under 14 years of age shall operate an all terrainvehicle or recreation utility vehicle. (Exceptions provided for snowmobiles andmotocross competitions)(2) No person between 14 and 16 years of age shall operate an all-terrainvehicle or recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90cubic centimeters; provided, however, that a person between 14 and 16 yearsof age may operate an all-terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle with anengine capacity equal to or less than 90 cubic centimeters if directlysupervised by a person 18 years of age or older.(b) No person aged 18 years of age or older shall knowingly permit another,who is under the age of 18, to operate a snow vehicle or recreation vehicle inhis custody or under his control in violation of this chapter.
  5. 5. A winning teamThe Kearneys—agreed to call it “Sean’s Law”CDC Core Injury Prevention ProgramMassachusetts Prevent Injuries Now! Network (ICPG)Massachusetts General Hospital—Dr. Peter MasiakosChildren’s Hospital, Boston—Dr. Lois LeeConcerned Families for ATV Safety—CarolynAndersonChildren’s Safety NetworkSafeKids Massachusetts ChaptersAmerican Academy of Pediatrics, MA ChapterMA Medical SocietyKey State legislators, bipartisan coalition.
  6. 6. Knowing the landscapeOur advocates successfully pushed for Sean’s Law usingmultiple arguments attractive to legislators of all persuasions:ATV safety is a children’s rights issue: any consumer productthat, when used as intended, can cause danger to the user is aproduct that should not be available for sale.A parents’ rights issue—outside of rural areas, many parentsoften don’t know what ATVs are or how powerful they are.A health care system cost containment issue—fewer seriousinjuries, including TBIs, reduces costs for the care and recoveryof those injured.
  7. 7. Why keep ATVs away from kids?The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons(AAOP) have adopted formal policies recommending that children under age 16 not drive ATVs.According to AAP: “Laws should prohibit the use of ATVs, on- or off-road, by children andadolescents younger than 16 years. An automobile driver’s license, and preferably someadditional certification in ATV use, should be required to operate an ATV.” (AAP, PolicyStatement, All-Terrain Vehicle Injury Prevention: Two-, Three-, and Four-Wheeled UnlicensedMotor Vehicles, 2000)The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states: “The American Academy of OrthopedicSurgeons considers ATVs to be a significant public health risk. . . The minimum age of 16 foroperating an ATV on or off the road should be enforced.” (AAOS, Position Statement, All-TerrainVehicles, 1992)Massachusetts was the first state to create a law based on these recommendations.Courtesy, Concerned Families for ATV Safety
  8. 8. Encouraging results In the first full Ages Ages Ages year of 0-9 10-14 15-19 Sean’s Law, 34 FY 2004 62 303 221 fewer children 2005 59 243 172 ages 10- 14 were 2006 39 246 160 sent to 2007 49 253 143 the ED because 2008 46 201 127 of injuries 2009 sustained 46 218 159 on an 2010 ATV. 37 213 118 2011 31 158 84Off-Road Motor Vehicle Injuries by Trends in Massachusetts Emergency Department DischargesAssociated with Non-motorcyclist Age Subgroup, All Dispositions, All Persons and Age Groups
  9. 9. Hospitalization data for kids 0-14Trends in Massachusetts Inpatient FY 2004 30Hospital Discharges Associatedwith Non-motorcyclist Off-RoadMotor Vehicle Injuries by Age FY 2005 25Subgroup FY 2006 20Ages 0-14, by Fiscal YearIn the first year under FY 2007 21Sean’s Law, hospital FY 2008 23discharges for children 0-14 were reduced by FY 2009 19almost half. FY 2010 20 FY 2011 11
  10. 10. Fewer Traumatic Brain InjuriesAccording to the MA Department of PublicHealth, the number of ATV-relatedtraumatic brain injuries dropped during thefirst year of Sean’s Law from 141 to 108, adecrease of 21 percent.Trends in Massachusetts Emergency Department Discharges Associated with Traumatic BrainInjury Caused by Non-motorcycle Off-Road Motor Vehicle , All Dispositions, All Persons
  11. 11. Hospital discharges in MA, youth ages 15-19In 2009, 36 Massachusetts youth ages 15-19were discharged from hospitals following ATV-related injuries.This number fell to 27 in 2010 and, afterpassage of Sean’s law, dropped to just 13 in2011.More study is needed to determine the impact ofthe law on these figures.With better outreach and promotion of the law,we hope for further reductions in injury rates.
  12. 12. Publicizing ATV safety laws is neither difficult nor expensiveTSI has prepared the following 60 secondPSA on Sean’s Law and its impact.
  13. 13. The road ahead Next Steps—In MA, TSI and its partners will work with MA DCR to educate parents of ALL 10-14 year olds. Not just those who already ride. In Other states—redesign ATVs to make them safer, and discourage passengers on ATVs. Step up educational efforts to discourage unsafe and risky behavior. Stop marketing ATVs to young children as fun toys!!!
  14. 14. Questions or CommentsLewis C. HoweExecutive DirectorThe Safety Institute, Inc.340 Anawan StreetRehoboth, MA