Summer Safety: Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals urge safe operation of ATVs, golf carts, lawn mowers
GREENVILLE, S.C.— It’s common to see children on golf carts and ATVs, especially in summer months, but precautions must be taken while using recreational vehicles or serious injury could occur, warns Prisma Health.
“We are often reminded of the importance of child safety seats and seat belts in the car, but many parents overlook the safety measures that should be taken when using recreational vehicles,” says Dr. Robert Gates, pediatric surgeon with Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Greenville. “ATVs and golf carts are not toys. They are powerful, motorized vehicles that have the potential to cause serious harm.”
Dr. Stanton Adkins, pediatric surgeon at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, agrees. “It is heartbreaking to have to perform surgery on a child for a preventable injury. As physicians, we depend on parents and caregivers to make sure children are following safe practices, and to take the difficult stance to not allow their children to participate when it is not. Accidents happen, but we don’t want to see another child with a disability from what was supposed to be a fun activity.”
South Carolina has laws in place to ensure golf carts are operated as safely as possible. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDMV):
- Drivers must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license
- The golf cart must be insured, permitted and registered with the SCDMV
- Golf carts may only be operated during daylight hours
- Golf carts may only be operated on roads with speeds of less than 35 mph
- Golf carts must remain within 4 miles of the home in which it is registered to
There are also laws in place to protect drivers and riders of ATVs as accidents have risen over the years with the vehicles’ popularity. Often referred to as a “four-wheeler,” most ATVs are not designed for use on main roads and streets. According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles:
- ATVs should not be driven more than 30 minutes after sunset or more than 30 minutes before sunrise unless with headlights
- Children six and under are not permitted to drive an ATV
- Persons 16 or younger are not permitted to drive an ATV unless an adult is riding as a passenger
- Persons 15 and younger should not drive an ATV until they have successfully completed an ATV safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (AVSI). They must also wear a safety helmet and eye protection
Adkins says that our Children’s Hospitals have already seen children brought in this year with these kinds of preventable injuries and he would like to ask the community to be extra cautious. “Every year, we hope that we can go a year without seeing this kind of preventable injuries, but unfortunately we don’t. We want summer to be a fun but safe time for our children.”
Prisma Health physicians have seen a lot of children who were operating or riding on the golf cart or ATV without their parents’ permission and without their parents having any knowledge of them doing so. They recommend that parents have open discussions with their children about the dangers of golf carts and ATVs. They also recommend that those who own them consider placing the keys to these vehicles in a locked, secured area and ensure that those riding them appropriately are wearing appropriate safety gear for ATVs, such as helmets and protective eye gear.
Gates adds, “It is important to keep in mind that not all ATVs are created equally. Choosing one that is fit for a child is critical to keeping them safe. Many of these rules should also be applied to machines like riding lawn mowers.”
According to the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, lawn mowers are the leading cause of traumatic amputations in children, with most injuries occurring in the child’s yard. It is recommended that children do not operate a push lawn mower until age 12 or a riding lawn mower until age 16. It is also important to be aware of who is around when cutting grass and that children be kept out of the yard when a lawn mower is in use. To avoid accidents, it is best to teach children to stay away from anyone who is riding or pushing a lawnmower. Riding lawn mowers have a much higher injury rate and should not be seen as a means of entertainment. Children should never ride as passengers on a riding lawn mower as they can fall off and be seriously injured or run over unintentionally.
Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals in the Midlands and Upstate are two of three American College of Surgeons-verified pediatric trauma centers in South Carolina.
About Prisma Health
Prisma Health is a not-for-profit health company and the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. With nearly 30,000 team members, 18 acute care and specialty hospitals, 2,947 beds, approximately 300 outpatient sites, and nearly 5,000 employed and clinically integrated network physicians and providers, Prisma Health serves more than 1.2 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of South Carolina. Prisma Health’s goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals. For more information, visit PrismaHealth.org.