Experts say ATV deaths and injuries are often preventable

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Last week two people in Kentucky were killed in ATV crashes. Doctors at UK Hospital say they see dozens of similar cases every year, many of them easily preventable.

26-year-old Brandon Powers was the latest person in Kentucky to die while riding an ATV. He was killed in Johnson County when the ATV he was in flipped. But the trauma director at UK's emergency room says he likely won't be the last.

"We're one of the hot spots, us, West Virginia, Alabama," said Dr. Andrew Bernard.

Bernard says many of the deaths and injuries they see could be prevented if people followed a few precautions when using ATVs.

"We see and evaluate and admit about 200 people a year and that's been pretty stable over the past five years," he said.

Bernard says the simplest step an ATV rider can take to reduce their chances of going to the emergency room is wearing a helmet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says only 13% of drivers in fatal ATV accidents were wearing one.

"It's primarily head trauma and chest trauma," Bernard said. "The reality is those things weigh about 500 pounds so it doesn't matter how fast you're going, if it rolls over your head, you are going to die."

He says alcohol is another factor in many of those injuries. Following that is driving the vehicles on roads where they aren't meant to be.

"You're no match for a car," he said. "Don't ride at night, you can't see that tree coming, and don't drink and drive."

Between 2007 and 2011 Kentucky was ranked number one in ATV deaths by the IIHS. During that time 122 people died.

"I don't think there's a safe ATV, personally, but if that's how you chose to recreate just do it safely," Bernard said. "Just do the basics, and you'll save a life."

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