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Child ATV accidents on the rise, doctors think it's linked to coronavirus

“It makes sense, because kids are away from school, they’re not in school during the day because of COVID[-19]."

UF Health has seen a 5% increase in severe ATV accidents with children in the last few months.

“It’s heartbreaking, it’s tragic. There’s nothing more terrible,” trauma surgeon Dr. Marie Crandall told First Coast News.

Crandall has seen these severe brain injuries first-hand and believes there's a direct correlation between the rise in accidents and COVID-19.

“It makes sense," she said. "Because kids are away from school, they’re not in school during the day because of COVID.”

That means more time to ride outside, she said.

Normally Crandall sees about one to two ATV related injuries a month during the school year. But this year she’s seeing five to ten, most of them traumatic brain injuries and even deaths. 

Crandall says what’s most heartbreaking to know is all of these injuries could have been prevented with the right gear and training.

She says most of the patients she’s treated weren’t wearing helmets, something simple that could have spared many serious brain injuries and saved several lives.

Put simply, “if you’re going to have an ATV think of a helmet as an essential part of it, like a seat belt in a car,” she said.

Her patients span a wide range of ages, but most of them are between 3 and 18 years old.

It's not easy for her to see such young people so severely injured, she said.

“I would tell parents please don’t put a 3-year-old on an ATV with their 11-year-old brother," Crandall said, "Because it’s just not safe.”

It’s been devastating for Crandall to see these young kids and their families suffering. 

She hopes this is a reminder for everyone that as we try to stay safe from the coronavirus and find outlets to let off steam, it’s important to be sensible rather than reckless, she said.