Northern Health urges ATV safety

With a number of ATV injuries and deaths each year the health authority wants people to play it safe.

All-terrain-vehicle (ATV) riders, particularly men, should be sure to exercise caution when out in the back country.

In the Northwest area of the Northern Health Authority, of which we’re a part, 263 files, from 2001 to 2012, were reported of hospitalizations relating to injuries from off-road vehicle use.

Out of the 1,558 total files in the entire Northern Health region, 1,279 of those were of men.

Northern Health is pushing for ATV safety due to the high prevalance of cases, which over that time frame has cost over $8 million in direct health care cost, not including other costs such as rehabilitation.

The largest demographic of people at risk are men 15 to 29 years old, and youth in general.

“We also experience a much higher rate of ATV related injuries than the rest of the province,” said Shellie O’Brien, Northern Health Injury Prevention Coordinator.

She says intoxication is a big reason that accidents happen, or not wearing safety gear such as helmets.

Holly Christian, Northern Health’s regional lead on men’s health and activity, says the prevalance of men’s injuries from the sport is partly a factor of men being the largest user group of ATVs, but also says men are more likely than women to engage in risky riding behaviour.

ATV injuries, she adds, are still the leading cause of sports-related hospitalizations in Northern Health.

Between 2006 and 2011 there were 33 ATV-related deaths, half of which involved drugs or alcohol.

Her key emphasis is that all ATV injuries are preventable.

“We want everyone to make it home safely,” she said.

Sergeant Al Steinhauser with the North District RCMP says files involving ATVs have been rising rapidly this year.

Now in the peak season he says calls come in each day regarding an ATV injury.

Kitimat Sgt. Graham Morgan says they don’t keep records specifically on ATV incidents, but it is a matter the RCMP here deal with. The detachment has their own ATVs and conduct patrols regularly.