5 Most Dangerous Recreational Sports (with the most ER visits)



Have wheels, will travel -- and likely get injured, if NEISS data is any indication.

Bicycle riding sends more people to the ER than any other sport or activity, 2.3 times more than ATV riding [source: NEISS].

The popularity of cycling, from training wheels to extreme mountain biking, lends itself to the higher number of injuries and a chart-topping 541,746 ER trips. But there's one more factor that makes cycling more dangerous than any other sport: other vehicles.

Those who cycle off-road have 40 percent less chance of getting injured [source: Thompson]. When your mom told you not to play in the street, it looks like she had a point.

But for cyclists who do frequent the paved roads of America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some tips. Cyclists should follow the rules of the road, it suggests, and enthusiasts should avoid riding at night [source: NHTSA].

So there you have it, the five most dangerous recreational sports in the U.S. If you're going to play, play it safe: "We should take reasonable steps to eliminate avoidable and excessive risk in sports, but we shouldn't live in fear," said Johnson. "Being sedentary is also hazardous to your health."

Related Articles


  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Adult-Sized ATVs Are Not Safe for Kids; Statistics Startling." April 4, 2011. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://www6.aaos.org/news/pemr/releases/release.cfm?releasenum=992
  • Bak, Matthew J. and Timothy D. Doerr. "Craniomaxillofacial fractures during recreational baseball and softball." Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Vol. 62, no. 10. Pages 1209-1212. October 2004. (Feb. 2, 2012 http://www.joms.org/article/S0278-2391%2804%2900854-7/abstract
  • Johnson, L. Syd. Personal correspondence. Feb. 6, 2012.
  • McKenzie, Lara B., Nicolas G. Nelson and Charles Randazzo. "Basketball-Related Injuries in School-Aged Children and Adolescents in 1997-2007." Pediatrics. Vol. 126, no. 4. Pages 727-733. Oct. 1, 2010. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/4/727.full
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Kids and Bicycle Safety." April 2006. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/
  • Shroeder, Thomas. Personal correspondence. Feb. 5, 2010.
  • Thompson, Matthew J. and Frederick P. Rivara. "Bicycle-related injuries." American Family Physician. Vol. 63, no. 10. May 15, 2001.
  • The Times of London. "Cities Fit for Cycling" campaign. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/contact/
  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System: A Tool for Researchers." March 2000. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://www.cpsc.gov/neiss/2000d015.pdf
  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. "NEISS Data Highlights -- 2010." (Feb. 2, 2012) www.cpsc.gov/neiss/2010highlights.pdf
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office. "All-Terrain Vehicles: How They Are Used, Crashes, and Sales of Adult-Sized Vehicles for Children's Use." April 2010. (Feb. 2, 2012) http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10418.pdf


How Ambulances Work

How Ambulances Work

How are ambulances dispatched and why do they cost so much? HowStuffWorks takes a close look at the world of ambulances.