ATVs can provide drivers with off-roading thrills. Four-wheelers also have practical uses, like plowing snow and doing farming chores. And some states don’t even require all-terrain vehicles to be registered or riders to have a driver’s license.
However, this also means some parents let their children ride ATVs with minimal supervision. But remember that they’re still motor vehicles, so riders should take safety precautions. If not, your child could meet the same fate as the boy in the heartbreaking story below.
Are ATV accidents on the rise?
According to Today, several studies point to a lack of ATV safety training in drivers under 18. Over a period of 36 years, 15,744 children have lost their lives due to four-wheeler accidents. A separate study reported that 31 children are admitted to hospitals every day for ATV-related head or neck injuries.
Tragically, 20 percent of the children were younger than 16 at the time of their deaths. The vast majority of these riders also weren’t wearing helmets. In fact, the most dangerous day for all-terrain vehicle riding is July 4. This is probably due to high traffic and holiday festivities, which might distract guardians from enforcing ATV safety rules.
The ATV accident that changed a family forever
Eleven-year-old Logan Almer was tragically killed when his family’s ATV crushed him on Memorial Day weekend 2013. The vehicle flipped on top of him after he turned sharply to avoid rolling into traffic. Almer wasn’t wearing safety equipment, likely contributing to his fatal injuries, Today reported.
Logan’s older brother was enrolled in an ATV safety course at the time of the accident, an excellent example to follow. These vehicles are easy to use, which makes them appealing to kids. However, children lack the knowledge and experience to operate any motor vehicle as safely as adults.
Some parents also worry that four-wheelers are too hazardous for children to ride at all. Recently, one dangerously fast ATV was recalled for exceeding the speed limit deemed safe for children. Vehicles marketed to children 6 years or older should never exceed 15 mph.
Even so, kids far below the age of 16 generally lack the advanced motor function and strength to handle these vehicles. Logan’s caution when approaching the road ultimately didn’t save him for that reason. Regardless of your child’s age, it’s never safe to ride an ATV without a helmet.
How to stay safe on four-wheelers
Even if you’re over 16, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes a few precautions that everyone should follow. Always wear safety equipment, including a helmet, boots, and gloves. Also, you should never ride on paved roads or try to accommodate passengers on vehicles designed for one.
In addition, you should never drink alcohol before operating an all-terrain vehicle. The CPSC also recommends reading about your state’s local ATV regulations before riding.
Furthermore, children and teens should follow some additional rules, according to TeensHealth. Avoid riding at night, and don’t ride three-wheeled vehicles. Plus, kids should ride only ATVs made for their appropriate age group. And they should wear the proper safety equipment, long sleeves, and pants.
Kids are also discouraged from giving passengers a ride, even on ATVs equipped to do so. Even careful drivers might get injured, so basic first-aid knowledge is highly recommended.
Last, young riders should stick with designated trails and always adhere to the posted speed limits. Anyone younger than 16 should never go riding without adult supervision.