A study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that ATV injuries have drastically increased in Canada, and other research shows that the same can be said for the United States.

According to the CIHI report, hospitalization for injuries related to ATVs has increased by 66% over a nine-year span. There were nearly 1,700 ATV-related hospital admissions in 1996-97 and more than 2,800 in 2004-05.

A report from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that ATV-related emergency-room treated injuries have risen every year from 1997 to 2004. Approximately 136,100 people were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries in 2004, compared to 58,000 in 1997.

ATV-related deaths in the United States also rose to 609 in 2004 from 241 in 1997. The highest number of ATV-related deaths was 636 in 2003.

“In many rural and remote communities across the country, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles are used not only for recreation, but also as an essential mode of transportation,” says Margaret Keresteci, manager of Clinical Registries at CIHI. “These machines can reach high speeds and often travel on rough terrain, so the impact of a fall or a collision can be quite dramatic.”

In 2004-05, Keresteci says, 11 Canadians per day were hospitalized on average due to injuries from off-road vehicles.

According to the report, the majority of those admitted to hospital had multiple injuries, more than half of whom had fractures of the upper and lower limbs.

Of those hospitalized, 19% of ATV riders suffered head injuries and 20% suffered a fractured vertebra, rib or sternum.

Alcohol plays a large part in snowmobile and ATV-related injuries. The CIHI study says alcohol use above the legal limit was a factor in 28% of specialized trauma unit admissions for ATVs.

Despite the alarming increase in ATV-related injuries, those numbers are largely offset by the fact that ATV sales have increased considerably in recent years.

According to the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distrubution Council, a total of 59,251 ATVs were sold in Canada in 1999, compared to 87,187 sold in 2004—an increase of almost 50 per cent. The sales number peaked in 2002 when 93,361 ATVs were sold.

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