The Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP) of the Hamad Trauma Center has issued a series of recommendations that can help residents to stay safe on their quad bikes or all-terrain vehicles (ATV) during this year’s camping season.
The HIPP team analysed data from 1,188 ATV-related trauma cases from Qatar National Trauma Registry, Al Wakra Hospital and the Ambulance Service of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). The victims were all injured at Sealine and Mesaieed area while using off-road vehicles from November to March for three seasons – 2017 to 2018, 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.
According to HIPP Director Dr Rafael Consunji, there is much to be learned from their collaborative effort as it serves as basis for the safety recommendations that every person in Qatar, who engages in activities using off-road vehicles, must know and implement to make their camping season safe and injury-free.
He said that quad bikes are designed for one single operator, their weight and power must be managed by the driver. He/she must have enough strength, counterweight, training and experience to drive one safely. Some ATV rental outlets in Qatar do not rent out to young individuals below 18 years old, this is the globally accepted safest and recommended practice. Families, however, must see to it that young children do not drive or ride ATV.
Please note that permanent paralysis or brain damage can happen during impact of an ATV crash. Following these tips will reduce the chance of injuries, in the event of a crash:
- Parents and ATV rental agencies should not allow young children to operate quad bikes. Almost one third of all victims were between the ages of 11 to 15 years. Quad bikes are not toys; their size, power and weight require complex decision-making, impulse control and strength, which are not present in young children. Quad bikes are designed for responsible use by fully-trained and mature adults. For these reasons, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons do not recommend that children younger than 12 years old operate quad bikes and that those with more than 90cc in (engine) size should never be operated by persons under 16 years old.
- No passengers should be allowed on a quad bike, unless especially designed for passengers. About a quarter of all victims were injured as passengers. Quad bikes are designed for only one user, driver or operator. To drive a quad bike safely, one must be able to adjust one’s position and shift weight in response to sudden changes in direction, speed and terrain. Riding with or as a passenger increases the chance that weight imbalance and instability will occur. These result in rollovers and crashes; another reason that small children, with low body weights, should not be riding or driving quad bikes.
- Avoid peak periods of activity to reduce the risk of injury. Half of the victims were injured on Fridays, between 2 pm and 10 pm. The congestion and density of different kinds of off-road vehicles added to the mix of experience levels and driving expertise makes this period the most-risky for all. It is best to go at a time when there are less enthusiasts using the course and to only use areas that are under the direct supervision of responsible authorities, like the Traffic Department, Mawater or the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
- Do not operate quad bikes without protective gears. Majority of injuries affected body parts that can be easily protected by proper PPE – the head, arms, legs, feet, eyes and face were most commonly affected. Helmets, gloves, ankle boots and protective eyewear are needed to protect the quad bike driver in the event of a crash. Long sleeved shirts and long pants are also recommended to protect the vulnerable knees and elbows from cuts and scratches.
- Leave the stunt driving to professionals. The most common injury mechanisms are collisions and rollovers. Collisions may be with fixed objects (suddenly appearing walls, posts, etc), or with another quad bike or with other vehicles. Children are more likely to be injured in collisions or in lateral rollovers while adults were most commonly injured in backward rollovers, a common mechanism when ascending hills or dunes or doing ‘wheelies’ or stunts.
To learn more about HMC’s trauma system visit hamad.qa.