(NEW YORK) -- Riders of all ages enjoy buzzing through woods and fields across America on all-terrain vehicles, better known as ATVs.
But the thrill of the ride can come at a heavy price. A new report by leading public health experts finds what is called an epidemic of serious injuries and deaths involving children who ride ATVs. And so far, efforts to protect children from ATV dangers have fallen far short.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons recommend keeping all children under the age of 16 off ATV's.
But every weekend, across the country, thousands of children well under 16 take part in the increasingly popular and dangerous sport.
At a track in upstate Wallkill, New York, 11-year-old T.J. Albright told ABC News about the appeal of ATVs. "Most kids like it," he said, "because they see the pros coming up, like, 'Whoa, that guy went super high, that guy went super far,' and then, 'Oh, Mom, Dad, I want to do that.'"
"They can go 60, 70 miles per hour, doing 30, 40-feet jumps," said another rider at the same track, Mark Monfeletto. "You gotta be somewhat of a daredevil to do this."
Some of the ATV daredevils are barely old enough to ride a bicycle. Six-year-old McKenzie, who rides a child-sized version, told ABC News that her favorite part of riding was "hitting the jumps."
From the most recent figures, public health experts estimate at least 150 children are killed and 4,000 hospitalized each year in ATV accidents. Since federal officials began tracking deaths from ATV crashes in the 1980s, about a quarter of the more than 10,000 recorded fatalities have been children under 16. A new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that the number of kids hospitalized for ATV injuries has more than doubled since 1996.
At a race at the Wallkill track attended by ABC News, a 16-year old boy broke two bones in his back after his ATV crashed on a turn.
"It's all part of the sport," said Jeff Weiss, parent of a 14-year-old racer at the track. "You accept that, I guess, as a part of it."
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