With the summer sun now out in full force, more and more people are taking their ATVs out for a spin. Although they are a blast to ride and can be a huge asset while working, they are some of the most dangerous vehicles. This past week, an ATV rollover accident injured a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction worker. Luckily this individual did not experience any life-threatening injuries. Many other people are not so lucky.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2016 there were over 101,000 ATV-related injuries that were treated in the E.R., and over 300 ATV-related fatalities that were reported (data for injuries and fatalities in 2016 continue to be collected). Most of these injuries occur from people going too fast, not paying attention to their surroundings, or rolling the ATV.
Always be sure you’ve received the proper ATV training before operating any machine to prevent injuries or accidents. Although the state may not require you to receive training to drive an ATV, you will be better prepared for situations in which hazards may arise.
ATV riders can take a number of precautions to lower their risk of accidents or injuries and ensure a successful and safe journey:
- Only ride on designated trails at a safe speed.
- Wear goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves, and DOT-approved helmets at all times.
- Never ride on paved roads. ATVs are considered off-road vehicles.
- Never ride while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- A single-rider ATV should never transport passengers. On an ATV designed for two people, carry no more than one passenger.
- Ride the right ATV for your size.
- Actively monitor younger riders. ATVs are not toys.
- Take a hands-on and online safety course.
Most importantly, when you are out on an ATV have fun but always remain safe. For additional safety training, please visit us at hardhattraining.com.
Common ATV Injuries
Some of today’s most powerful ATVs can weigh over 1,000 pounds and reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. This means that ATV riders who roll over, collide with other ATVs, or collide with stationary objects can suffer injuries comparable to those sustained in a car accident. The following are some common ATV accident injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Facial injuries and dental trauma
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord and back injuries
- Amputation and limb loss
- Internal bleeding and abdominal injuries
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Bruises, cuts, and burns
Common Accidents on ATVs
The following are some of the most common causes of ATV accidents that our attorneys see in the cases we handle:
- Distracted driving – When ATV drivers are distracted by their phones or conversations with friends, they are likely to crash.
- Driving on paved surfaces – ATVs are built to be driven off-road. Drivers on paved roads are likely to cause accidents due to poor handling.
- Riding with two people – Most ATVs are only designed to carry one person. Riding two people on an ATV reduces traction, increasing the likelihood of an accident.
- Driver inexperience – Drivers with little or no ATV experience are far more likely to get in an accident.
- Inadequate supervision – Young ATV drivers, who ride without adult supervision, are more likely to cause accidents.
- Recklessness – When ATV drivers attempt dangerous stunts, they can cause single-vehicle or multi-vehicle crashes.
- Driving while intoxicated – Even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can significantly increase an ATV driver’s risk of crashing.
- Driving in unfamiliar areas – ATV drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents when they encounter unexpected obstacles or changes in terrain when driving in unfamiliar areas.
- Defective components – A poorly manufactured or maintained ATV lead to defects, faulty parts, or system failures that could result in a crash (or something).
Be Safe from State to State
Quads, four-wheelers, and ATVs are becoming more and more popular among young people. If you’re planning a trip or a weekend in the great outdoors, it’s crucial to be aware of the many laws that each state has in place to keep riders safe.
In Idaho, for instance, it is illegal for anybody under the age of 18 to ride or operate an ATV without a protective safety helmet, unless driving on private property or using the vehicle as a tool for farming.
Ride or Die: Kids Shouldn’t Drive ATVs
More than 3,000 minors under the age of 16 died in ATV accidents between 1985 and 2015. ATV accidents sent approximately 1 million more people to the emergency room. In fact, it’s estimated that four children in the US visit an emergency room every hour due to an ATV-related accident.
Bumps, bruises, cuts, fractures, and dislocations are the most common ATV injuries. But, more severe injuries can also occur. Trauma to the head, spine, chest, or abdomen can result from a rollover. Particularly if the rider is not wearing a helmet, concussions and other head injuries are frequent.
Age Group: Finding the Right Vehicle
Despite the danger, there is no doubt that ATVs are popular. For younger children, they are often a source of recreation, but older children also use them for chores. ATVs are growing in size and speed. They are proven more dangerous for children under the age of 16, making up 25% of ATV-related injuries treated in emergency departments. ATV operation should be taught to young drivers in a safety training course that has been approved.
When selecting an ATV, factors to consider include ATV type, power, speed, driving mechanism, adult supervisory controls, carrier racks, suspension systems, brake and foot controls, and heat and burn protection. When choosing an ATV for your child, physical development and emotional maturity should be taken into account. Physical development includes size and strength, visual perception and coordination, focus, discipline, and logic.
Emotional maturity is the understanding that reckless behavior can cause harm or death. Properly evaluation your child’s level of emotional maturity is necessary for safe ATV operation; the mere fact that a child can reach the controls does not guarantee that they will act responsibly.
Youth ATV Safety Guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises you to take the following safety precautions if you do let your kids under 16 ride an ATV:
- Active supervision – Minors under 16 must have parental or guardian consent to operate an ATV, and must wear safety equipment and follow directions before being allowed to ride. Although young riders might be able to start and stop an ATV, they lack the experience to react in an emergency.
- ATV fit – Adult-use ATVs are bigger, heavier, and more powerful than junior models, so children under the age of 16 should drive on a smaller model with slower top speeds. They should be able to reach the foot pegs, grip the handlebars, and use one hand to operate the throttle and brake lever. Young riders must be able to balance while shifting their weight from front to back and side to side.
Safety equipment – All drivers and passengers on Class 1 or Class 2 ATVs are required to wear DOT-certified helmets. The most protective helmets are those with a full face shield, eye protection, and over-the-ankle shoes. Gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved clothing also provide protection.