Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why take the risk?

In Maryland, people can drive motor vehicles starting at the age of 16.  There are restrictions, such as, one can only drive to the mall as long as a sober relative is in the car (if one can be found.)  But the deal is, you have to be 16 to get out on the road and drive a car or truck or motorcycle.

It's going to irritate some people for me to say this, but I don't think it's such a great idea to see 8-year-olds zipping around back yards and woodland trails on ATVs or dirt bikes. Sure, it's cute: a little kid in a little helmet racing by on a little machine, but...

...It's dangerous. 
Image result for atv wreck maddie spears
Before the wreck
Someone decided it was a good idea for Jamie Lynn Spears's daughter to have an ATV.  And then, a few weeks ago, young Maddie flipped her Polaris ATV into a pond on the family property in Kentwood, LA.

The 8-year-old was riding the four-wheeler and trying to avoid a drainage ditch, and wound up crashing into a pond. By the time her mom and step-dad got to her, and managed to untangle her from the seatbelt and netting, she had been unconscious and underwater for two minutes.  She could have drowned, she could have suffered brain damage, and she was lucky.

Paramedics rescued her and airlifted her to a hospital, where she remained unconscious for two days. All in all, she was in the hospital for five days, and although she is now back to her regular activities, the question remains, why allow this to happen in the first place?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the people who work hard to point out hazards everywhere, have some good advice for ATV use.  Right in there is the statement "Do not allow a child under 16 to drive or ride an adult ATV."

The CPSC annual report contains this stunning statistic: 
As of December 31, 2015, CPSC staff received reports of 14,129 ATV-related fatalities occurring between 1982 and 2015. CPSC staff received reports of 340 ATV-related fatalities occurring in 2015, 547 occurring in 2014, and 581 occurring in 2013. 

I don't like to be Capt. Bringdown, and no one likes having fun more than I, but these vehicles racing through piney wooded paths are unsafe in the hands of someone who can't legally drive the Corolla down to the farm store to pick up some hot dog rolls.

It's tough to tell a child "no" to having an ATV. Imagine how tough it is to have to go to Shock Trauma because someone said "yes" to one.

I know, I'll hear from people whose children have ridden for years without a bump or a scratch. I also hear from people who have smoked cigarettes daily for 57 years and are still hale and hearty. That doesn't change the odds, I'm sorry to say.

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