Trauma Surgeon-Led and Funded Injury Prevention Program Decreases Number of All-Terrain Vehicle-Related Admissions

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: All-terrain vehicle (ATV) laws regarding helmet use, alcohol involvement, and roadway riding are poorly enforced or largely ignored. We hypothesized that direct surgeon funding and leadership in injury prevention would decrease ATV crashes. To focus prevention efforts, we reviewed a rural level 1 trauma center 11-year experience with ATV crashes comparing helmeted and unhelmeted rider outcomes. Methods: For the latter 6 years of the study period, a trauma surgeon sponsored an injury prevention fund promoting ATV safety using simulators and discussions for area high school students. Helmet use, alcohol avoidance, and safe ATV operating were emphasized. A trauma registry review of ATV admissions from 2009 through 2020 examined demographics, helmet use, and clinical outcomes using chi-square, t-test, and regression analysis. Results: Unhelmeted ATV riders suffered more severe head and neck injuries (OR 19, CI 1.5-1.8, P <.001), worse overall Injury Severity Score (ISS), (OR 25, CI 12.1-14.2, P <.001), and higher mortality rates (OR 4.0, CI.02-.05, P <.001). Helmet use corresponded with an average decrease in AIS and increase in GCS status. Although only 15% of riders were helmeted, ATV crash admissions have decreased in the last 5 years (P <.001). Discussion: All-terrain vehicle trauma and mortality is still frequent, especially in unhelmeted riders. The recent decrease in area ATV crashes is encouraging. Trauma surgeons have an opportunity to make a difference in public awareness and education through comprehensive physician-funded and directed injury prevention and research efforts.