Helmets On when riding ATVs

July 22, 2019

When we’re making a quick trip to the store.

Helmets on.

When we’re going to bring our auntie some smoked salmon.

Helmets on.

When we’re scouting a caribou herd for the fall harvest.

Helmets on.

In Alaska, we use many types of transportation for all kinds of reasons and many of us rely on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), or four-wheelers, to get from point A to point B. When traveling anywhere, anytime, everyone should wear a helmet – even if it’s a quick trip close to home.

In June, Alaska Native Medical Center saw an uptick in head trauma injuries – many from ATV accidents. Almost all were because people driving were not wearing a helmet.

“We strive to provide the best trauma care here at Alaska Native Medical Center. But we want to avoid people from ending up in the trauma bay in the first place,” said Elisha G. Brownson, M.D., General Surgery. “If we can prevent even one person from getting a severe head injury by spreading the word about ATV safety and helmet use, then the benefits of these efforts are worth it.”

From 2012 to 2016 Alaska Native people averaged 200 hospitalizations for traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Of those hospitalizations, about 1/5 of TBIs were from ATV, snow machine and bicycle accidents.

Wearing a helmet when on an ATV is the best way protect your head and reduce the risk of a TBI. Adults can set a positive example for our youth by driving safely and always wearing a helmet.

Additionally, planning your TRIPSS* is a good way to reduce injuries while driving and operating your ATV:

T – Training
Take a free online ATV training course to learn safety tips at https://atvsafety.org/.

R – Ride Off-Road
When possible, ride on unpaved roads. The ATV’s tires are not made for paved or loose gravel roads – you could lose control.

I – Impairment Danger
Never drive an ATV while impaired. This includes not driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

P – Plan Ahead
Before riding, plan your trip by looking for wire fencing, tree stumps and other dangers. Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back.

S – Single Rider
Most ATVs are made for one rider. When possible, drive without passengers.

S – Safety Equipment
Wear a helmet, boots, gloves, long pants and sleeves when riding your ATV.

For more information about ANTHC Injury Prevention, visit https://www.anthc.org/injuryprevention/. For more on safe riding, visit https://www.anthc.org/HelmetsOn.

*TRIPSS safety message adapted from Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention program.

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