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Thursday, May 21, 2009
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) - Summer Safety Tips
As summer nears more and more people are enjoying the sport of off-roading on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). This sport has been growing in popularity with 2.4 million ATVs in use but, unfortunately, too many are buying ATVs and hitting the trail with little or no training and too many children are allowed to ride ATVs that are too powerful for them to safely control.
Between 2000 and 2006 an average of 640 people were killed and 123,014 people were treated in emergency rooms every year as a result of ATV crashes. Forty percent of the deaths involved children. Between 2000 and 2007, an average of 141 children under the age of 16 were killed and 38,300 were treated in emergency rooms every year as a result of ATV crashes.
A quick Google search of news articles reveal that 15 people were killed while riding ATVs during the past week; two of the deaths involving children under the age of 15.
Off-road vehicles encompass two wheeled mini-bikes, and motor-bikes along with three and four wheeled ATVs. All of these vehicles share common attributes which make them dangerous; powerful engines and a high center of gravity. While the three and four wheeled ATVs, with their fat balloon tires, may look stable, their high center of gravity, little or no suspension, and the ability to attain speeds of 30 to 50 mph easily allows them to tip or roll over in uneven terrain. The powerful engines are often too powerful for young riders to control and they can easily "get away" from their operators. Many of the deaths occur when the vehicle, going too fast, flips over pinning or crushing the rider beneath them. Another common problem leading to serious injury and death of riders is lack of helmet use.
The federal government's Office of Consumer Product Safety along with a number of public and private health and safety organizations have urged legislation to make ATVs safer and to limit their use by children. Unfortunately the states have not taken that advice with only 13 states currently requiring safety training certification for ATV riders.
The ATV Safety Institute (ASI), created by the ATV industry, provides e-training and state by state information on instructor provided training for new riders of all ages. The ASI also suggests basic safety rules that should be followed and prevents its members from knowingly selling ATVs for use by underage riders.
The threat posed by ATVs to children has resulted in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) all agreeing that:
If you still want to purchase an ATV for your child, North Carolina’s comprehensive ATV law provides good guidance. The North Carolina law:
The American Academy of Pediatric Surgeons goes further to suggest that modifications be required on ATVs including: