Morbidity Associated with Four-Wheel All-Terrain Vehicles and Comparison with That of Motorcycles

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in their annual report (2001) of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) deaths and injuries concluded that in the late 1990s there had been a gradual increase in the number of deaths and injuries related to ATV collisions. The objective of our study was to describe the morbidity of four-wheel all-terrain vehicle collisions (ATVCs) and compare them with motorcycle collision (MCC) victims.


This was a 24-month (April 2000–November 2002) retrospective review of all trauma patients admitted. Statistical significance was defined at p < 0.05.


A total of 2,380 blunt trauma patients were admitted, of which 74 (3.1%) were ATVC victims and 169 (7.1%) were MCC victims. The average age was 23.9 ± 9.4 years for ATVC victims and 29.1 ± 11.5 years (p < 0.001) for MCC victims. The median Injury Severity Score was 16.0 for the ATVC group and 13 for the MCC group (p = 0.106). ATVC patients had a higher incidence of head and neck injuries (56%) than MCC patients (30%) (p < 0.001). The incidence of chest and abdominal injuries was similar between groups. Mortality occurred in 15 of 74 (20%) ATVC patients and 24 of 169 (14.2%) MCC patients (p = 0.236).


This study demonstrates that ATVCs are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. When compared with MCCs, ATVCs have similar mortality and a much higher incidence of head injuries. National tracking of ATVCs should be continued and improved in an effort to assist legislators in enacting laws protecting the riders of ATVs.

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