Jeremy Thurman on October 23, 2013
Too often, people think of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) as toys. While they are often used for recreation, they are still motor vehicles and caution needs to be exercised just as you would for any other car, truck or motorcycle.
Between 1982 and 2011, there were 11,688 ATV-related fatalities reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), with 327 of those occurring in 2011 alone. Of those fatalities, 25 percent were children younger than 16 years old.
One reason why ATVs are so dangerous specifically for children is that a leading cause of ATV-related deaths and injuries is incorrect ATV size. Accidents like rollovers, collisions and ejections are often caused by children who are lacking in physical strength and motor coordination necessary for safe ATV handling. Also, their maturity is limited, so their perception and cognitive ability to react quickly and appropriately in a dangerous situation is not as developed as it would be for an adult.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 16 not ride ATVs or other motorized vehicles (other than cars). Manufacturers have warned that full-sized ATVs are not designed to be driven by children under 16 years old and are dangerous for them to operate.
But, the dangers of ATVs are not for kids, alone. Adults, too, need to exercise caution. For one thing, alcohol and ATVs don’t mix. If you’ve been drinking, you wouldn’t drive a car – so don’t drive an ATV, either. Manufacturers of ATVs say that they are safe when used properly. As Honda succinctly puts it, “Ride Smart, Stupid Hurts”. However, not every ATV accident is caused by recklessness or negligence; there are documented stories of experienced, careful riders who perished in ATV crashes. The most common ATV accidents are rollovers, which include both sideways rolls and forward or backward flips. If you’re willing to assume the risk, though, here are a few tips for accident prevention:
Again, ATVs are not toys. They can be fun, and they can serve a purpose, but always exercise caution.