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The Burden of Unhelmeted and Uninsured ATV Drivers and Passengers

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Objective: Injured all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders contribute to the national trauma burden. The importance of helmet use on injury severity and outcomes in ATV drivers versus passengers that receive care is unknown along with the association of payor status and helmet use in this population. An investigation of whether helmet use protects ATV drivers and passengers resulting in less severe injuries, better outcomes, and a lower cost burden to society is to be conducted. Methods: A retrospective review of injured ATV riders in the National Trauma Data Bank from the United States for 2000-2004. Results: Helmet use status was recorded for 5897 drivers and 836 passengers; 83 percent of drivers were male; 41 percent of passengers were female. Helmets were not widely worn (35% of drivers, 19% of passengers, p < .0001) and were less common among female than male drivers who crashed and received care (26% versus 37%, p < .0001). Drivers were older than passengers (p < .0001) and had more thorax, spine, and upper extremity injuries (p < .05). Helmets protected drivers and passengers: decreased head injuries, face injuries, injury severity, and mortality with increased likelihood of being discharged home rather than elsewhere (p < .0001). Personal insurance was more frequent in helmeted riders: 66 percent versus 55 percent of helmeted versus nonhelmeted drivers (p < .0001) and 69 percent versus 55 percent of helmeted versus nonhelmeted passengers (p = .03). Conclusions: Helmets are frequently not worn by ATV riders. Helmets protect ATV drivers and passengers and decrease societal costs associated with ATV crashes.
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Keywords: All-terrain vehicle; Driver; Helmet; Insurance; Passenger

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Surgery Education, Trauma, and Office of Research Departments, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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