A 2010 Massachusetts law to restrict the use of off-road vehicles by children and teens resulted in significant declines in serious injuries, according to a study in the October 2017 Pediatrics.
The study, "Age Legislation and Off-Road Vehicle Injuries in Children," to be published online Sept. 11, performed a retrospective analysis of emergency department and hospital discharges between 2002 and 2013 in Massachusetts.
Researchers compared injuries among children before and after the state passed a law in 2010 known as "Sean's Law," in honor of 8-year-old Sean Kearney who died when an all-terrain vehicle he was riding overturned on him.
The legislation was comprehensive, restricting off-road vehicle use by children under age 14 and imposing other safeguards for children up to age 18 that have been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional medical societies.
During the study period, researchers identified 3,638 emergency department discharges and 481 inpatient discharges of children who suffered injuries related to off-road vehicles. Following the implementation of the law in 2010, the rate of inpatient discharges for children ages 0 to 17 declined by 41%. Looking at discharges from the emergency department, researchers found declines in the age groups impacted by the legislation, including a 33% decline among children ages 0 to 9, a 50% decline among children ages 10-13, and a 39% decline among 14- to 17-year-olds. Emergency department discharges among 25- to 34-year-olds did not see a significant drop.
Researchers conclude the study adds to the evidence in favor of legislation as an effective means of reducing child deaths and injuries from off-road vehicles.