All-terrain vehicles have become very popular class of vehicles for off-road recreational driving today. Other than recreational applications, farmers, ranchers as well as foresters have also found ATVs very helpful in their day to day operations. However, a new trend of ATVs becoming one common vehicle driven by children as young as 3-years of age is one aspect that has baffled many observers and health professionals alike, considering the rate of accidents and deaths they have caused. In features, ATV may weigh less than 450 kilograms, with wide and soft tires that create less impact on the ground hence making driving on rugged terrain easier (Helmkamp, 2001). ATVs emerged into the scene in the 1970s, even though they only became widely popular in the 1980s through to the 1990s (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006).
At present, the three-wheeled ATVs are no longer manufactured since it was revealed to cause many safety risks. However, people still drive them; despite the introduction of the perceived more secure four-wheeled ones. But it has been realized that even the four-wheeled ATVs can also prove unsafe, particularly in the hands of unskilled drivers, who are mainly children (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). In this case, ATV causes injuries mainly because there is a lack of regulation, insufficient supervision and their use in some specific, dangerous sports. According to Daniel Reed of State of Mississippi, injuries and deaths resulting from ATV accidents in Mississippi have tripled that of the whole country, stating that the state has lost so many people from ATV accidents than ‘it has lost soldiers in Iraq war’ (Reed, 2009, p.1). Despite the fact that some specific dealers offer fee training, a small number make use of this training outcome, worsened by lack of safety regulations. In Mississippi alone, a report from the Department of Health indicated that approximately 30 people died in 2009 and well over 1,500 serious injuries were caused by ATV accidents (Reed, 2009). It is believed that safety recommendations by the government and manufacturers are only applicable and practical if they are accompanied by proper education on their usage. This paper investigates whether providing parents with educational materials about the use of safety equipments will reduce the number of significant childhood injuries from ATV accidents. This change project will be based on the theory that educational project is a sure way of instilling skills necessary to contain the escalating deaths and injuries from ATV accidents.
To get the actual basic information on the importance of the educational approach to the problem of ATV usage by children, PICO questions will be applied as illustrated below.
Patients (P): The patients in question here are children who are still under parental guidance but drive ATVs, despite their lack of skills and guidance. Intervention (I): the intervention mechanism that I would like to apply is based on the theory of educational approach, where parents would be provided with educational training materials to help acquire skills for managing the problem. In other words, the skills acquired would be sufficient in guiding and providing children with necessary precautions towards safety. Comparison (C): is there any other more effective alternative that could be applied? Logically, other approaches have been used, with little success. For example, diagnosis and treatment, promotion of ATV clubs and associations, campaign against children under 12 not to drive, and many others have not produced enough success as was initially expected. Outcome: what is the expected outcome of this approach? It is expected children deaths and injuries caused by ATVs will reduce significantly over the period of 3 years. It is important to note that the resultant outcome will reflect the viability and effectiveness of the program.
In 2004, the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) started an advocacy after an accident that involved a child who was riding an AVT in a field in Western Maryland (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). The child was killed when he flew through the air and sustained a crushed trachea coupled with severe head injuries. This high profile case was highlighted by the media and only represented several other cases of deaths and serious injuries that have occurred while driving an ATV. Through research, NAON established that regulation in ATV driving is either non-existent or lax (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). In this aspect, it was established that the fact that unregulated use of ATV was the cause of many accidents, it became apparent that parental knowledge and skills are necessary in solving the problem as far as these accidents are concerned.
The fast strategy to adopt the safety mechanism was carried out by NAON, which, through their board, developed a safety statement. Most of the data on ATV issues have been compiled by the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition, the Consumer Federation of America, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006, p.884). These strategic actions were perpetuated by the scope of the problem.
Scope of the Problem
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission report, those children who sustained serious injuries and needed emergency room treatment rose from 113,900 to 125,500 between 2002 and 2003 alone, representing a 10% increase (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). On the other hand, the number of ATV-related cases of fatalities increased by 2% during the same period (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). In the year 2003, ATV accidents killed about 111 children below the age of 16, a figure that accounted for 27% of the total ATV-related deaths. Again, children below the age of 16 suffered over 38,000 serious injuries in the year 2003, accounting for 31% of the total injuries (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006).
Due to the increased ATV-related deaths during the period, particularly in the rural areas, numerous attempts were made to persuade the media to expose more statistical information on deaths and injuries and its seriousness. However the media’s reluctant to corporate stalled the process in one aspect, i.e. the lack of information among the public on the importance of taking precaution on the use of ATVs. For example, in Western Maryland, the death of two youths from ATV related accident saw an article written with present information on dangers of ATV usage among children being rejected by editors of major newspapers in the United States. Unfortunately, the following week, same newspapers’ front pages carried stories and big pictures of an area resident bouncing through the filed on his ATV, with statement written on his machine reading: “now is the time for outdoor fun!” (Levenson, 2003, p.149).
Some other successful efforts to expose the need for ATV safety were advanced by the medical practitioners in the field of healthcare. For instance, Robert Demichelis, the legislative liaison for the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), assisted in the effort to make the NOAN statement published on the organization’s website (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2005).
Parental Education and Media Campaign
The demand for more approaches arose as a result of the need for more awareness in the fight against the ATV-related injuries and deaths. The need by the general public, especially parents, to learn the potential risks that their children are exposed to from ATV usage was acknowledged by many medical practitioners. Some of the conspicuous suggestions were educating parents through increased access to ATV videos, especially through materials from dealers and the hunter education expansion (Levenson, 2003). In fact, some parents proposed that for effective and safe usage of the devices, the diver’s educational classes together with testing were needed (Levenson, 2003). However, this could only work for adults who are able to read and interpret the writings. Other potential avenues included public media and school closed circuit television, as well as print media including flyers, brochures, and posters for use in schools and high visibility areas such as sporting events or community festivals (Leavitt, Mason & Chaffee, 2006). The use of testimonials and group forums with teenagers and adults who had experienced an ATV injury was also suggested.
Literature Findings and Analysis
In a study conducted on the use of educational materials. Helmkamp (2001) found out that youths were more attracted to active events that presented messages of ATV safety. Furthermore, youths were more interested in advice given by parents than those given by teachers in schools, there by justifying the common notion that children tend to separate role of teachers from that of parents in their day to day interactions (Helmkamp, 2001). In addition, youths, especially boys felt more need to listen to the celebrity figures/ personalities such as senators, musicians, president, and sports personalities fronting the message of ATV safety than they would listen to their teachers at school (Helmkamp, 2001).
Another test was carried out to establish the kind of messages that would or wouldn’t work in the educational materials and their impacts on the parents and their children. Groups of parents were presented with Audio tapes with a pediatrician discussing risks associated with ATVs (Strauss, et al., 2005). In this tape, adolescent survivors narrated their separate ordeals, one elaborating the point that ATVs are not toys as perceived by many children, another focused on his wheel chair and how very other thing he had planned had been jeopardized after the accident (Strauss, et al., 2005). The last parts focused on young children driving ATVs to comment on how it is possible to have maturity in play for them to d rive. Some of the messages on the other hand were driven towards the belief that the minimum age limit for drivers should be 16 years of age (Strauss, et al., 2005). This kind of message was expressly unpopular with the respondents. It emerged that even the parents of the children felt that such a message may lead to loss of the entire message of ATVs safety (Strauss, et al., 2005). In short, in place of an age-specific approach, most respondents preferred statements that were carried out in line with the manufacturers’ instructions for usage on age as well as size. In fact, different groups conceived messages differently: message that used younger people was less effective, even to the parents who felt such were condescending and less attractive (Strauss, et al., 2005). Adults visibly preferred most the messages that comprised of the physician narrating the story.
In a clear boundary, ATV usage and injury statistics suggest that any educational efforts that come from dealers and the public health professionals can never be adequate in efforts to promote more safe behavioral habits (Towner & Dowswell, 2002). In fact, the focused group discussion results showed that parents were not interested in many of the strategies, despite the initial assumption that they would be popular with them (Towner & Dowswell, 2002).
In working towards changing the attitude of the parents on educational approach on the safety issues related to ATV usage among the young, it was established that parents preferred the process of acquiring knowledge through a multifaceted approach to education rather than single-dimensional approach (Levenson, 2003). It is important to note that despite numerous efforts to put across the message in a positive direction through these age-specific educational approaches, the messages to parents seemed more powerful than those which targeted the youth (Levenson, 2003). This is because, according to this study, many preventable injuries would be controlled because of the program is appearing natural to parents. Additionally, most of the preventable injuries included media campaigns and education at an affordable rate (Levenson, 2003).
Quite a number of nations have adopted the World Health Organization’s holistic approach to the problem through emphasis of the community participatory approaches that saw the introduction of the value of parental knowledge and care. According to Levenson (2003) it is quite difficult to develop a complete multifaceted approach to changing the attitude towards ATV safety mechanism. This is because of the prevalent usage in the private property as well as reduced reliability of the manufacturers’ manuals that accompany the vehicle (Levenson, 2003). It is likewise difficult to observe or monitor the usage given to the increased dependency on the use by the rural agricultural community, especially on off-road driving, and the diversity in usage in terms of age, the high cost of helmets, and the low cost of safety equipment usage at the baseline (Levenson, 2003). Basically, several messages show evidence that in order to be more effective, the educational approaches focused in reducing the prevalence of the ATVs risky usage should be focused on parents, who tend to monitor a lot the precautionary behaviors among their children and. Additionally, it is critical to note that media campaigns that are supported by health agencies should be focusing on the clear messages that have straightforward and realistic idea on the consequences of ATV usage by the young people (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2005). Towner & Dowswell (2002) say that it will be important to neglect all the messages that do not reflect the reality of the state of affairs in order to maintain the credibility of risky groups comprised of mainly children under the parental guidance.
In this case for a proper analysis to be considered, parental education should be followed by rigorous evaluation of the program to ensure the determination of whether the program is effective, i.e. whether the program has achieved its goal and objectives of improving ATV safety behaviors among children. I believe that the findings in this study are critically important in the shaping of the behaviors in the process of ATV accident reductions. In summery, providing educational materials for the parents would provide a constructive input into the process for the execution of plans in the activities of ATV safety improvement among the children. It is important to note that this proposal can be used to tailor family level or rather community campaigns in an effort to increase the skills of ATV risk management to save the lives of the vulnerable children. These efforts are more likely to increase skills on how to improve child safety on ATV usage through restrain by the parents and offering parental guidance.
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Reed, D. (2009). Reed intends to fill bill aimed at ATV safety. Starkville Daily News. Web.
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