CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Within the past decade West Virginia has seen a dramatic improvement in ATV safety, especially among children, according to Jeffrey Lusk, director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails.
West Virginia led the nation in ATV-related fatalities and injuries about six years ago, but the state has now been praised for taking more safety precautions to protect youth riders.
"Our rangers go into schools throughout Southern West Virginia and teach ATV safety," Lusk said. "We've taught thousands and thousands of students."
Lusk attributes a decline in injuries to stricter requirements for trail riders and a national law requiring helmets for riders under 18.
According to a recently published review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nonfatal injuries among children decreased nationwide for the first time since 2004. Injuries peaked at 67 per 100,000 children in 2004 before declining to 42 per 100,000 children by 2010, according to the study.
Approximately 361,000 children, mostly boys between 11 and 15 years old, visited emergency rooms across the country for ATV-related injuries from 2001 to 2010.
The reviewers attributed a decline in youth injuries to fewer people buying and riding ATVs due to the recession and increased government focus on ATV safety standards and laws.
A federal law enacted in 2004 prohibited children from riding adult-sized ATVs, required them to wear a helmet, prohibited them from riding on non-paved roads and prohibited them from riding as a passenger.
From 1999 to 2006, ATV fatalities among riders 18 and younger occurred frequently in West Virginia, according to a separate CDC study published in 2008.
That study found that 250 people died of ATV crash injuries in West Virginia during those seven years.