Driver was a child carrying two younger children as passengers
On Jan. 26 at 3:50 p.m., Charles County Sheriff's officers responded to the 9500 block of May Day Street in La Plata for the report of someone who had been injured on an all-terrain vehicle. Upon arrival, officers discovered an eight-year-old boy lying on the edge of the street injured. A Maryland State Police helicopter flew the victim to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., with life-threatening injuries.
Investigation revealed a 13-year-old girl was driving the ATV with the victim and another passenger, age 9, onboard from their bus stop to their home. The victim was standing on the floorboard on the left side of the ATV when he lost his balance and fell to the pavement. Neither the driver of the ATV nor her passengers were wearing helmets. The hospital reported later in the evening that the victim was in stable condition. Officer D. Baker is investigating.
According to the Consumer Federation of America, "ATVs are killing and injuring nearly 112,000 people every year" and "children under 16 are most at risk." They also offer the following statistics:
o Between 1982 and 2001, 1,714 children under the age of 16 or 38 percent of the total number of fatalities were killed while riding ATVs. Of those, 799 were children under age 12.
o Between 1993 and 2001, ATV-related injuries suffered by children under 16 increased 94 percent to 34,800.
According to the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, Maryland has a minimum ATV operator age of 12, but only when the vehicle is operated on specified public lands. There is no Maryland law against carrying passengers. However, the ATV Safety Institute has several golden rules, one of which is, "Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle." Many ATVs, if not all, also carry a similar warning. The institute is a non-profit organization that is sponsored by major ATV manufacturers. You can find out more about ATV safety by visiting http://www.atvsafety.org/.