CHICAGO (AP) -- With winter approaching, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants curbs on snowmobiling and says children should not be allowed to drive the vehicles.
''Evidence is lacking that operator safety certification courses adequately educate children and youth to operate snowmobiles safely,'' the academy says in new guidelines published in November's issue of the journal Pediatrics say.
According to the guidelines:
n Children younger than 16 should not operate snowmobiles.
n Children younger than 6 should not ride on them.
n To be licensed, drivers should first obtain a learner's permit through a state-sanctioned course.
More than 10,000 snowmobile injuries were treated in emergency rooms nationwide in 1997 and 1998. Consumer Product Safety Commission figures show that 51 children under 16 died in snowmobile-related accidents between 1992 and 1997.
In 1998, there were more than 2 million registered snowmobiles nationwide, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.
Association President Ed Klim said that restricting the use of snowmobiles by children younger than 16 may not make sense in regions that are snow-covered half the year.
''It's easy to write standards if you're sitting in a nice warm office,'' Klim said, but ''sometimes snowmobiles are used as the only means of transportation. If you can't take your kid, you can't go.''
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