TORONTO - The Ontario Medical Association is urging that children under the age of 14 be banned from operating all-terrain vehicles.

The doctors' group issued a position paper Wednesday that says youth aged 14 to 16 should only be permitted to ride ATVs that cannot exceed 30 kilometres an hour.

It also calls for those aged 14 to 18 who want to operate an ATV to have a special learner's permit.

In addition, the association recommends that any legislation dealing with ATVs ensure that provisions involving children apply to both public and private property.

The OMA says more than 5,500 Ontario residents went to emergency departments in 2005-06 with an ATV-related injury.

The association also recommends that advertising of ATVs for use by children be prohibited, and finally, it wants government-approved helmets to be compulsory for ATV users.

"As physicians, we are seeing far too many children with serious injuries caused by the use of ATVs," Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, president of the OMA, said in a statement.

"Ontario's doctors firmly believe that there is nothing more important than protecting the health and safety of children in the province."