Canada

Keep children off 'toys that kill,' says doctor urging ATV ban

Doctors and nurses at Nova Scotia's children's hospital are demanding the province scrap its new rules for all-terrain vehicles, which will allow children as young as six to drive smaller machines.

Doctors and nurses at Nova Scotia's children's hospital are demanding the province scrap its new rules for all-terrain vehicles, which will allow children as young as six to drive smaller machines.

The trauma team at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax held a news conference Monday to attack the new plan for ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles, which the province intends to introduce within two years.

They listed a gruesome catalogue of traumas they see as a result of accidents involving children on off-road vehicles: crushed chests, shattered pelvises and brain injuries.

"These are not toys; these are motor vehicles. They're maiming and they're killing our children," said Dr. Christian Soder, head of the pediatric critical care department at the IWK.

"As the person who ends up having to treat them, I see absolutely no reason to allow toys that kill."

A nurse described seeing parents keep vigil at their children's bedside, begging them not to die.

Under the new rules, children as young as six will be allowed to drive scaled-down versions of ATVs, as long as they're trained, supervised by an adult and stay on private property.

At age 14, children will be able to drive unsupervised on a full-sized machine once they've completed a training course.

The doctors and nurses want ATVs treated like cars, with a minimum operating age of 16.

The medical professionals warned that the number of children with serious ATV injuries has tripled over the past five years.

Their statistics indicate that 20 children are admitted to the hospital each year as a result of serious injuries from ATVs.

The province ignored a recommendation by the Voluntary Planning Off-Highway Vehicle Task Force to ban children under 14 from driving, except on an approved course.

The doctors and nurses at the IWK sent a letter to the province last week but have not received a reply.

However, Health Minister Angus MacIsaac does not support their recommendation.

"We're not always able to employ every bit of advice that we get. If we were to come forward with regulation that's not going to be complied with, then the regulation isn't of much value," MacIsaac said.

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