The dangers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have not gone away even though their popularity has reached new heights.
As many as 11 million Americans drive ATVs recreationally. A lot of riders are children, many under the age at which they’re allowed to drive normal vehicles. And despite recent efforts to increase safety awareness riding ATVs, more people continue to ride and more often get seriously injured or killed.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued another warning about the dangers of ATV riding, just as the summer season begins and ridership increases exponentially. Each year, 700 Americans are killed and more than 136,000 suffer serious injuries and rushed to emergency rooms due to accidents riding ATVs.
Children are more likely to suffer serious injuries or die while riding ATVs. Adults are not exempt from injuries either, but the youngest riders face a greater risk. They are often the ones riding vehicles not designed for their body type. In 2010, according to a TODAY show report, 55 children under the age of 16 were killed in ATV accidents.
ATVs are color coded. Yellow vehicles are designed for riders under 14 years old. Blue ATVs are meant for adult riders. Like many warnings and guidelines, they’re often ignored or not understood by consumers and the desire to purchase a vehicle believing a child could handle the power and performance of a large ATV could provide impulse to purchase a ride not suitable for children.
Larger ATVs are too heavy for children because they have not developed physically and are unable to get them fully under control. This can cause rollover accidents or other incidents in which a younger driver loses control of the vehicle. ATVs designed for adults can reach higher top speeds and have larger, more powerful engines that are beyond a child’s control.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum told TODAY this week that ATVs are the fifth-deadliest product under the agency’s auspices.
The ATV industry has launched a campaign to help improve the image of these recreational vehicles, manufacturers have combined to issue ATV “golden rules” that could help make the best decision in choosing an ATV and how best to operate them safely to avoid serious injuries or death:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Never ride on a public road.
- Never ride with a passenger.
- One size ATV does not fit all.
Despite efforts to increase safety awareness, some ATV accidents are not the fault of the driver. CPSC does often issue recalls on defectively designed ATV that many times are prone to rollover accidents that can also result in serious injuries or death.