On Sunday, actress and singer Jamie Lynn Spears' 8-year-old daughter, Maddie, took a terrifying spill on an all-terrain vehicle she was riding in Kentwood, Louisana. The shocking accident has raised questions about ATV safety practices, including whether or not you should wear a helmet on an ATV. The short answer: Yes.
The ATV Safety Institute lists eight golden rules every person should follow before they take a ride on an ATV. The first among them: always wear a helmet that meets U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards. The ATV Safety Institute also recommends a person wear goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves while riding an ATV.
Wearing a helmet can save your life during a crash on an ATV or any type of motorized or single-track vehicle. According to the World Health Organization, wearing a helmet has been shown to significantly reduce the severity of head injuries and likelihood of death among motorcyclists by about 70 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The same is true for bicyclists who use head gear; the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute found that, in 2014, 16 percent of cyclists who wore helmets died in an accident, compared to 60 percent of those who didn't and died as a result.
Maddie Spears' Sunday afternoon accident has not only raised concerns about safety, it's also spurred debate about whether children should ride ATVs in the first place. Although states have different laws dictating age limits, the ATV Safety Institute suggests, as a general rule, that children under 16 years old should be supervised while riding an ATV that's age appropriate. After all, ATVs are unstable, hard-to-control vehicles that are prone to collisions and rollovers, as Kids Health notes. In fact, in 2015, riders under age 16 comprised 28 percent of all ATV-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; 50 percent of those accidents involved kids younger than 12 years old. The CPSC also reports that, in that same year, riders younger than 16 accounted for 17 percent of ATV fatalities, of which 55 percent were under the age of 12.
Maddie regained consciousness two days after she flipped her ATV into a pond, according to the New York Daily News. She was submerged under water for two minutes, leaving her in critical condition. Her aunt, pop star Britney Spears, took to Twitter Wednesday to let fans know her niece is "making progress" and to keep the well-wishes coming. "Thank you all for sending thoughts and prayers our way. Let's all keep praying," Spears wrote.