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All-terrain Vehicle Accidents on the Rise

All-terrain vehicles like four-wheelers are popular in the Ozarks, but studies show ATV accidents have sharply increased in recent years. KSMU's Christy Hendricks reports on the trend in ATV accidents.

All-terrain vehicles like four-wheelers and three-wheelers can be lots of fun for kids and adults...especially in the Ozarks where hilly terrain creates exciting obstacle courses.

But, these all-terrain vehicles can be dangerous as well.

Ozarks health and safety experts say ATV accidents have been on the rise in recent years and the Ozarks are not exception.

Rachel Smart, a freshman at the University of Missouri-Columbia, knows all too well how dangerous a four-wheeler can be.

Smart was a senior at Monett High School when she was involved in an ATV accident in August of 2005.

She had an acute brain injury which paralyzed her left arm and leg.

Smart spent about a week in the intensive care unit, a month in the hospital, and two months in a rehab facility before coming home to intense physical therapy.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, ATV accidents have more than tripled over the past decade.

Pam Holt is the trauma prevention education coordinator at St. John's Hospital.

Holt says about 80-percent of the patients admitted to St. John's who are injured in an ATV accident don't wear helmets.

She says inexperience is a common factor in ATV crashes.

Pam Holt says children should drive ATV's appropriate for their size and wear protective clothing.

Pam Holt says a study conducted by St. John's in 2001 found that four-percent of those in ATV accidents died.

She says there's usually a spike in accidents during the fall season.

Jeremy Henne is the sales manager at Procycle in Springfield.

He says company policy requires those who buy ATVs to sign that they understand and will adhere the rules and age requirements for riding ATVs.

Henne says every ATV has tags that describe the age requirement and safety precautions.

As for Rachel Smart, she has almost fully recovered and considers herself lucky to be alive.

She says the four-wheeler she was a passenger on was traveling between 60 to 80 miles per hour when she was thrown into a rock wall without a helmet.

Missouri law requires those under 18 to wear a helmet when operating an ATV.

The ATV Safety Institute provides rider safety courses in the Ozarks.

For more information about all-terrain vehicle safety tips visit