Interesting article...

Just read this article from a link on I consider myself to be a responsible parent and as such put my kids on motorcycles they can handle and they wear full protective gear. Let's not get more politics involved than we currently have. What's your take on it?

Children and motorized bikes are a dangerous combination...

Dr. Barbara E. Swan is an ignorant weenie!!!!!

I guess the statistics say so it must be true! :)

Anyone who has taken a statistics class realizes that they can be swayed in whatever direction you need to take them. One thing for sure is they don't consider the thousands of kids and adults that have ridden for years without any problems or injurys. I for one have ridden for over 20 years and have only broken one bone(and that was when I was 28 years old). This Dr. Barbara E. Swan needs to see both sides before she trys to explain her point. Then she would see the injurys to non-injurys percentage was pretty low.

All I can say is GO FIGURE! any ammo they can get. It will never stop. :D


Here is my letter to her

Dr Swan

I am a father of two who enjoys dirt bike riding with his kids. I must respond to your article dated Tuesday, November 26, 2002, titled Children and motorized bikes are a dangerous combination. It is obvious that you did not finish in your research and visit one of the local events for kids, to first hand witness the program and safety these kids are riding/racing under. You further quoted the American Pediatrics in response to there state of 40,000 injuries fro 1994 - 1996 for two wheeled injuries, making up 26 % of these injuries are kids under 15.

You failed to mention the same American Pediatrics had a similar study of youth sports in general where I quote That "Sports injuries are on the rise in U.S. children and teen-agers. Each year more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries requiring medical treatment occur in children under age 15." Now this is for Soccer, baseball, basketball and Football only. I have attached the link for your reading

I think just from these two simple reports we can conclude that Motorcycle racing and riding, is a far safer sport then general sports as in the general sports are "PER YEAR" injury reports. I would venture to guess the reason why the injuries are far less in motorcycling, the main reason is the parents. The parents that sit and instruct their kids as I have on proper handling of a motorcycle. Unlike the Soccer Moms and Dads of years past who drop the kids off as if its a baby sitting opportunity, I have first hand knowledge of that I coach baseball. Motorcycle families enjoy the sport and there are millions of families whom ride with their kids injury free.

I am shocked that you as a PhD failed to research this to the fullest, instead you choose set a bad example for our sport. I would encourage you to visit a local AMA event that is for kids. look for the volunteers helping the medical people on hand, the parents working on bikes helping there kids, the entire program. I truly believe you would see that for our sport our safety record is the highest of all sports. Sure kids get hurt, but look at the statistics for kids riding scooters without helmets, or roller blades or skate boards and skate parks. How many parents do you see at skate parks watching the kids. I would guess the ration is 1 parent to 10 kids, At the Race Track I would say its 2 parents per kid a Mom and a Dad. Ya see we are our kids Parents.....


John Lorenz

"Football is a less inherently dangerous sport", I doubt that to be true. In football you are trying to hurt people, in motocross you are trying to avoid it. As for the helmet laws, law or no law no parent is gonna let their kids ride without a helmet especially while racing or jumping. I rode my bike once without a helmet as a kid and my dad took my bike away for 2 weeks. I will enforce that on my kids as well.

In her world she's right, in our's she's not. I've been given lectures by doctors and nurses when visiting emergency rooms for myself or others - it's a lot like preaching religion I guess, I know I don't want to hear any of it. That said, when you work in medicine seeing the unnecessary misery and death tends to get to you after a time. I feel sorry for people who have never experienced the rush that is there for the bold -but I also feel sorry for those that have paid too much to experience it, especially the young who may not have had enough experience to make a good decision for themselves for the long run - I guess that's why its so important for us older folks to look out for the best interests of our kids for that long haul and not get too carried away with the competition side of riding. It's just a bit less forgiving than little league. And I've got to tell you, I've seen more than one person die from a bad decision on a dirt bike. Once you experience that up close, you start to think about what is really best for youngsters who haven't experienced much of what life has to offer.

Sorry about the ramble, but its really not all black and white is it?


It isn't black and white, that is true, but this article is ridiculous! Calling for legislation to prevent kids under 16 from riding dirt bikes seems crazy to me.

Here is my letter:

Dear Dr. Swan,

Although I am sure that you wrote this article out of an

interest for childrens welfare, I believe that you have

printed a misguided and harmful article about the sport

of motocross racing and dirt bikes in general.

Why don't we just ban our children from life and lock them

in the closet until they are 16? By then I'm sure that they

will have had enough life experience to ride a dirt bike,

drive a car, and play football.

You are interfering in a sport in which your only experience is

the injuries you have seen and the little bit of research you

have done. What about the great times and fun the families have

at the races or trail riding on the weekends?

In addition, this statement from your article really makes me mad:

"In June 2000, the Academy of Pediatrics published a policy

statement calling for states to prohibit the use of motorized off-road

vehicles by children younger than 16. It seems reasonable that children too young to safely drive a car are also too young to safely

drive -- and race -- a dirt bike."

That is completely ridiculous!

If you want to prevent your children from riding off-road vehicles, that is

your choice, but keep your choices and morality out of my life.

This country needs less laws, not more!


Tim Winder

Boulder, CO

I am waiting to see if we get any responses.

Here is my LENGTHY reply that I e-mailed to her!!


This message is in reply to an article authored by yourself, and posted on the Internet using the following URL. (

I would like to make a few comments on this article, which I believe is intended solely at the ruin of such an enjoyable sport.

First of, I am a motorcyclist, both street and off road - and one who competes in off road racing. Motorcycling in general (street, or off-road) has come under heavy fire from all levels of government. It generally seems many people are uninformed as to the true nature of motorcycles, the people that ride them, and the enjoyment they bring.

While it is true that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, it is not inherently dangerous. It is the level that the participant wants to being themselves to that makes it dangerous or not dangerous. This represents something known as a choice. Last I recall, a person making a choice, (dangerous or not) was not a crime in the United States. As of my experiences, I have never known a parent that has forced their child into riding or racing dirt bikes. Generally, the child shows an interest. If the parent rides, they will sometimes get a bike for the child without him or her showing an interest, only to have the child enjoy it or not. The child determines whether they like it or not. This, to the extent the child is able to do, constitutes as a choice.

Claiming that this could be a hazard to the child, and should be regulated by government, is wrong. If this is a hazard, then I move to make school buses illegal! How many children are seat-belted into the seat of the bus in the morning? Are they even given a choice as to wearing seat belts? No, there are no seat belts on busses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to my knowledge - and this state has a seat belt law!

So, let me ask you, why are dirt bikes the target? Surely it can't be for the danger, because more children under 20 are killed in car accidents in a year than are injured from dirt biking.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (ref. THIS LINK), over 8 million children were injured between 1990 and 1999. This is approximately 889,000 children per year - on public highways! You state in your article, that "...between 1994 and 1996...approximately 40,000 injuries related to two-wheeled motorized off-road cycles were treated in emergency departments each year, of which 26 percent were sustained by children younger than 15. That's 10,400 injuries per year! "

Statistically, it would seem that trying to get dirt biking regulated if not eliminated is not a very good choice...again, statistically.

As far as deaths go, your article states "Between 1990 and the first quarter of 1995, at least 50 deaths were reported. Forty-two percent of the victims were 16 or younger."

Doing the math in this statement tells me that out of 50 deaths, 21 were of children 16 or younger, making the other 29 over 16.

According to the NTSB, "Highway deaths are the number one killer of children in our nation. Between 1990 and 1999, over 90,000 children under the age of 20 died in motor vehicle crashes. Over 16,500 of those children were under the age of 10 - meaning that 33 children under the age of 10 died every week in motor vehicle crashes"

Lets see, 33 children under age 10 per WEEK? I would say again, statistically, trying to get dirt bikes regulated or eliminated is NOT a prudent course of action....statisticly.

Let talk about guns shall we? Such a great device is used for hunting, or other unknown reasons. These things are protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, so they MUST be good!

Well, according to the state of Oregon ALONE, and according to the Oregon Public Health Services (ref. THIS LINK), "A total of 16 children were killed by firearms in 1999. Firearm deaths among children numbered 26 in 1997 and 20 in 1998 ".

Doing the math, that is 52 children killed in THREE YEARS.

Again, reiterating your article on dirt bikes "Between 1990 and the first quarter of 1995, at least 50 deaths were reported. Forty-two percent of the victims were 16 or younger."

So, yet again, statistically, why don't we try to ban guns? Statistically, this would save more lives than stopping dirt bikes?

I have not even tapped into the dangers of parents who smoke in the same household as children!

I have a theory as to why people including yourself want to see dirt bikes and motorcycles in general regulated or eliminated. It is called control. Dirt bikers and motorcyclists make up a small percentage of the total population. The AMA, the American Motorcyclist Association, has over 270,000 members Nationwide.

This pales in comparison to the amount of hunters or car drivers in the United States. In 1992 alone, over 34 million hunting licenses were sold. So obviously, motorcyclists are an easy target, as we are so small.

Unfortunately, you, and many other people in this country, do not understand us. We are not ruffians, hooligans, or even dangers to self or society. We are a group of people who enjoy being in the outdoors, smelling the air, and being in the sun. Yes, what we do can be dangerous...but going to work in the morning - or school, as the children are concerned, is even more dangerous.

There was a movie released in 1971, entitled "On Any Sunday". This is a movie solely based on the sport and enjoyment of motorcycling. Anyone who does not have compassion and understanding of motorcycling and motorcyclists needs to watch this movie with an open mind. It shows the true grit and personality of the people who ride motorcycles. We all share the same grit, whether we are 5 or 50. If we didn't, we wouldn't ride.

It is a shame people are not forgiving to motorcyclists, and only wish to destroy us, because we are a great group of fun-loving people, of all ages, who just enjoy the thrills of riding our beloved machines. Ask any motorcyclist, and they will tell you there is nothing like it in the world. The freedom, intensity, and bliss you get from being on two wheels is unworldly.

Anyone who dislikes motorcycles, I would invite them to try it once. There is no right or wrong way to do it, just have fun, at any speed.

In conclusion, I believe your article was incredibly shortsighted, narrow-minded, and biased in a way to make motorcycles, the riders, and parents of youngsters, look inept, and dangerous. The truth could not be further away. Your article needs more facts of the TRUE dangers of motorcycles, in comparison to other "good" activities of the nation. It is very, VERY biased in an "anti-motorcycle" style, and requires a follow up involving a more thorough showing of the true "dangers" of motorcycling. I think you would hesitate to post a new article with more information, as it would show your first article to be what I claim it to be, narrow-minded and biased.

Thank you for your time.

Christopher Slade

Hummelstown, PA

here is my letter:

Regulate regulate regulate.

Why dont we regulate people like you? You do more damage to regular people than any dirt bike ever did. I hate people like you.

Im a 40 year old college educated man, have 2 children and dont need anymore Govenment regualtion in my life.

Your government regs are out of control. Who the hell do you think you are? Your statements are the most arrogant I think Ive ever seen!

Who the hell are you to tell me how to live my life? Im not infringing on you in any fashion whatsoever!

&%$#@!in democrat.

Ya know why you and your kind got your asses kicked out of congress and the senate? I bet you dont. Your too freakin arrogant to figure that out. Your little commie brains are too busy trying to figure out what you can regulate and tax next!

Ive wasted enough of MY time on you idiots for today. Im going to go spend wonderful time with my family getting ready to ride our dirt bikes.

For what it's is my e-mail to the good Dr. Swan:

Dr Swan,

When reading your article "Children and motorized bikes are a dangerous combination" I wonder what it really means. What is your reference point?

To properly evaluate anything you must first have a reference point. Are motorcycles more or less dangerous than bicycles? We don't know from your article. Are motorcycles more or less dangerous than skateboards? Still we do not know....I think you get my point.

As with anything it is the responsibility of the parent to properly supervise and teach their children regardless of what sport or recreational activity they participate in. Where were you when your son got injured? What type of training or guidance did YOU provide for him? Did you buy him a toy and turn him loose on it? If you did then YOU are the problem.

My advice to you is to stop feeling guilty about your lack of involvement with your son and your disregard for providing him the proper support and training. Had he been experienced enough to ride a 250cc bike at 15 years old (which by the way I was 15 when I graduated to a 250cc bike) then maybe he would have made better decisions when riding. This appears to be another guilt ridden parent trying to overlook the cause and blame someone else.

I am a 37 year old parent and still ride motocross. I have a 7 year old son who rides motorcycles, plays organized football, basketball and baseball. An active child will get hurt and that is a given. If a child is "protected" all their life and are prohibited from recreational activities then they will be hurt far worse than a skinned knee or a broken bone. They will be scarred emotionally for life.

HB McKinney


Don't get me wrong - legislation is never the answer - but RESPONSIBLE parenting is.

I once read a sci-fi story about machines "protecting mankind" - no one was allowed to do anything dangerous, including the use of tools - that meant no more inventions, no more art, no more physical competition, which then led to the eventual loss of humanity's will to live. If some of these well-meaning people had their way, we'd be in the same situation eventually - I don't think many of those who would stifle adventure sports really understand what benefits they provide to a stressed-out society.

I just told her to mind her own business.



Very well said.


Very Eloquent jeff..

this is mine.. half asleep but she got me.. and i have been hearing this on everything, guns, streetbikes etc.. oh well, i may one day be an outlaw.... :)

You ever wonder how many kids in med school committed suicide because the stress was too much, or abused substances to stay up and study? how many people do you see come into your hospital from drug over doses? domestic abuse? car accidents? would you rather these kids that are with THEIR families, be left alone and be on the street INSTEAD of riding dirtbikes? the one thing you forget in life is that is precious and finite, we must enjoy the time we have here, and if dirtbikes are the way we choose and we don't hurt anyone else, than let us enjoy. Like i stated earlier, how many car accident victims have you seen come into the hospital? yet you don't want to make us stop driving cars now, because i am 100% positive that YOU own a car of some sort.. and since you mention dirtbikes, how about bicycles? i see kids with no protective gear riding them, as well as skateboards and these go ped things.... why pick on dirtbikes? is it simply because you lack any experience or knowledge about them and let your irrational fear dictate your attitude toward them? it also doesn't mention where you are located, but i am sure you live somewhere motocross bikes are popular so you would see alot of those types of accidents, move to the inner city, what hurts the kids then? other kids and adults... we have so many more importand things to stop than trying to stop a child from enjoying their lives because they might get hurt.. how about catching these child killers, the terrorists... come on lady.. wake up and don't be so uninformed and resentful sounding.

as much as you hate to see injured children coming into your hospital, please realize that they are doing what they love to do.. kind of like you.


"nothing to fear but fear itself..."

Man I bet that lady's e-mailbox is filling up fast. :D:):D

I sent her an e-mail and at one point in the e-mail I asked her if she wanted scooters and bicycles banned too. Then, maybe they could make walking illegal to anyone under the age of 16. I bet there are a lot of people that get hurt doing that.

I'm with you, ddialogue,

Here's my reply:

Dear Dr. Swan,

I am disappointed by your statements in your article entitled “Children and Motorized Bikes are a Dangerous Combination”. You are obviously well educated, but it does not necessarily follow that you are well-informed. You have stated some very inflammatory conclusions based upon quite incomplete statistics and general impressions.

First, your reference to Jimmie Johnson’s father’s comments that motocross was too dangerous, but Nascar racing is not, are simply an opinion, and are purely anecdotal. This comment has no value whatsoever without some factual statements or statistics to support it, and can leave the uninformed with an impression that is the opposite of the truth. Considering that the number of motocross racers in the US approaches half a million, and the number of NASCAR participants is less than 200 for the entire United States, the raw numbers of motocross injuries should be higher. Were you and I to investigate the RATE of injury per 100 participants, NASCAR would certainly be higher. Severity of injury? NASCAR again. RATE of death? Again, NASCAR. And NASCAR is touted as the safest form of professional automobile racing in the world. I wouldn’t have chosen NASCAR for a comparison.

Secondly, the plight of the young man who was paralyzed after his third trip to the hospital and second in ICU suggests that it is something other than the motocross bike that was the cause of his repeated visits to the hospital. Were there no such sport as motocross, this poor fellow would likely be jumping off cliffs with a snowboard, or off of perfectly good television broadcast towers with a single parachute. That he is driven to push the limits so hard is a sickness that few have, for which legislation is no cure, and motocross no single outlet. In other words, while I am truly sorry to hear of his injuries, it is likely his behavior, not the sport of motocross that needs modification.

Thirdly, I am not sure what “shocked” you about the numbers of kids racing motocross. It is quite safe as a sport for youngsters. The exclamation that you were “shocked” sounded like the parent that is “shocked” that their 5 year old smokes dope. As if motocross is and should be a highly illegal activity. Sort of begs the question, don’t you think? What if I were in a position of authority and expressed my “shock” that 29 patients had died while in your care last year? Wouldn’t you be concerned that my reaction was a bit premature and ill-informed if I made my statements in the context of a call for an investigation of your hospital and your methods, especially if the circumstances of each death were ignored? In reality, their parents typically encourage and instruct them, the bikes have throttle governors until they are old and experienced enough to deal with more speed or power, and they are required to wear full safety gear. The tracks are nearly devoid of difficult obstacles, and they race against others of similar ability, size, and age. For the most part, they are well supervised. You make it sound as if parents turn Little Johnny 10-year-old loose with a fire-breathing, raging mechanical bull with a mind of its own.

Thirdly, you state your shock and dismay toward the 40,000 injuries per year involving dirt bikes (10,400 per year for participants younger than 15), and 50 deaths over a 5 year period (roughly 10 per year). Consider that there are 300,000 injuries per year involving the sport of football and roughly 20 deaths per year. That’s 30 times the number of injuries and twice the death rate of off-road motorcycle activities. There are almost 6 million injuries involving bicycles each year in all age groups, and over 4 million of those to children under 15 years of age. Let’s not get into the number of kids killed and injured in automobiles, in crosswalks, due to drugs and drinking alcohol, and other far more common activities than motorcycle racing. I am using CPSC statistics, by the way, same source as yours. Is football really inherently safer as you state? Not according to the same people you quote in your article. Motorcycles aren’t even on their list of the most dangerous activities.

I have an idea. Why don’t we as physicians, parents, aunts/uncles, and concerned adults call for closer study of all the injuries and deaths sustained by children and youth who participate in activities and sports that have much larger numbers of said injuries and deaths than motocross and off road motorcycles? I have an even better idea: why don’t we let the recreational directors, youth counselors, sports medical advisors and physicians, and especially the parents decide what factors should be regulated to enhance the safety of the children for which they (and only they) are responsible. Of course, this would be in lieu of leaving the decision to a bunch of overpaid, underworked bureaucrats, half of whom don’t even have children. Said bureaucrats who rely solely on their chosen subset of statistics know of no visible socially-redeeming factors of a sport that keeps kids busy after school, out of trouble, teaches them principles of physics and mechanics, personal responsibility, and the value of good mature judgement. Something they will likely never learn anywhere else in our modern society if your witch hunt succeeds in destroying the sport of motocross for kids.

If the parents are ultimately responsible for their own children, and they should be, they then must have the right to decide when an activity is too dangerous for those same children.

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Sir Winston Churchill

Respectfully yours,

Dan, Robin, Kevin, and Brian Clark

Off-road motorcycling family

Coming from Sweden, I must ask: whats up with the "Land of the free"?

Is everything fun going to be banned there?

All these lawsuit things is gonna end up in a big mess, everyone trying to sue everyone.

Were often laughing at warningtags on stuff from USA that says: Dont use Your chainsaw on people or other living things, it can cause severe injury or DEATH!

Or: Dont drink gasoline, it can cause severe injury or DEATH!!

Of course You dont need these tags to know that!

The post "OT...Are we that much better off?" is so great!

Just one thing, the people at the power (that want to ban everything, not for a reason but just to make a political impact) are put there by You, use Your right to vote the right way!!

Ban drugs and guns( I know "guns dont kill"...), not dirt bikes or the use of mountainbikes on trails!

Sweden is going nuts too, all the bad habits from the US is coming here 10-15 years later. (not your fault!)

Children get shot by children at school here too...

Dont get me wrong, I still love U.S.A. :)

Great, She's a DR at Allegheny General, Thats my local hospital here in PA. If I should happen to get balled-up while racing, betcha Barbara's the one. :)

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