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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Kids and ATVs: A Serious, And Often Deadly, Mix

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A 13-year-old teen boy was driving an all-terrain vehicles (ATV) up and down a residential street with three ten-year-old girls on board. A motorist who was returning home pulled into the neighborhood, but didn’t see that the four-wheeler pulled in front of him. The ATV to T-boned the car. The teen driver and one of the girls on the ATV were seriously injured, but are expected to recover; the other two girls walked away unharmed. No one in the car was injured. Everyone on the ATV was wearing helmets, which police say may have saved their lives. It was determined that the unlicensed ATV driver was speeding. Because it is illegal in Utah to ride a four-wheeler on public streets, the teen’s parents could be held criminally responsible if they allowed him access to the ATV.

Despite improvements in safety over the years, ATVs remain some of the most dangerous products available to consumers. Here are several other incidents this month alone that further illustrate that danger.

Two Minnesota teens were hospitalized after their ATV overturned. Both girls sustained non-life threatening injuries.

A 14-year-old Kentucky boy was transported to the hospital in critical, but stable condition with a head injury after the ATV he was riding suddenly left the roadway, hit an embankment, and then hit a metal pole. He was ejected from the vehicle.

A 13-year-old girl suffered minor injuries in an ATV crash after she lost control of the vehicle, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. She was ejected from the ATV. The crash report indicated she was not wearing a helmet.

“Thousands of families every year are impacted by ATV deaths and serious injuries. ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC’s jurisdiction,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for Consumer Federation of America.  “While data indicates that injuries from ATVs have decreased, we are concerned that we are not getting the whole picture because this report does not include statistics for other off highway vehicles that are reported in other studies.”

As much fun as a child may have on this type of vehicle, ATV’s are not toys; they are powerful and potentially dangerous vehicles. Yet, there are no federal laws regarding use. Each state chooses whether or not to set any requirements, and there’s no single rule which all 50 U.S. states have in common. Some states have no restrictions on age, helmet use or number of passengers, and no required safety certification.

The CPSC, industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under age 16 ride an ATV of any size. For those who choose to ride these vehicles, the ATV Safety Institute offers these “Golden Rules”:

  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
  • Never ride on public roads – another vehicle could hit you.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
  • Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  • Take an ATV Rider Course; Call Toll-Free at 800.887.2887, or go to www.atvsafety.org.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

1 Comment

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  1. Gerene Denning says:
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    Thank you for your thoughtful article on children and ATVs. This is a tragic epidemic that has been going on for decades, yet most parents have no idea how dangerous these vehicles are for their children. Sadly it will take lawsuits to get people’s attention.
    The other most vulnerable ATV riders are those who ride on the roads and streets. Not just the children but the adults as well. We are fighting in our state to keep counties from legalizing recreational riding on the roads and policy makers are ignoring all the evidence and all the warnings. We need help raising public awareness of this issue and would appreciate it if you would consider helping us do so.
    Thank you again for being part of the ATV injury prevention efforts.