The 2014 Consumer Product Safety Commission Staff Briefing on Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs) states that 33% of ATV fatalities between 2003 and 2011 involved children under 16.
This is an incredibly high percentage of children who are being injured in crashes involving ATVs. Without the proper training, knowledge, and practice, ATVs and other off-road vehicles can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. It’s important to take all necessary safety precautions whenever anyone is driving an ATV, especially children.
There are a few steps you can take to keep your children safe when around ATVs.
Follow All Manufacturers Minimum Age Guidelines
Every ATV has a minimum age of a person who should be operating that vehicle. These guidelines are the bare minimum of who should be allowed to operate one. For example, it might say “Never operate this ATV if you are under age 16.” However, if your child is small, or is inexperienced at operating an ATV, err on the side of caution and choose a smaller ATV. It is extremely dangerous for a child to operate an ATV that is too large for them. In fact, a recent study found that children under 16 on adult ATVs are twice as likely to get injured as those riding youth ATVs.
Take a Safety Course
There are a lot of safety courses that teach how to operate an ATV. More importantly, they teach a child how to be safe on an ATV. Be sure your child takes a hands-on course so they can get practice in a supervised, controlled environment. This can be one of the best ways to help your child stay safe while operating an ATV.
Wear a Helmet and Safety Gear
You should never, under any circumstances, let your child operate or ride on an ATV without a helmet. Additionally, safety gear, such as boots, gloves, goggles and protective clothing should be worn. When choosing a helmet, be sure it is meant for ATV use and fits properly. Additionally, if a helmet is ever cracked, broken, or has ever been in an accident previously, it should not be worn and should be thrown away.
Supervision is Important
Above all else, it’s important to supervise and monitor your child while they are using an ATV. This gives you the opportunity to spot something going wrong or correct behavior if they are being reckless or unsafe. Additionally, should something go wrong, you can be there to help them as soon as possible.
ATVs can be a lot of fun if used properly. However, because the driver is so exposed, they can be very dangerous as well. Taking every safety precaution possible will help you and your children have fun while staying safe.
If you, your child, or someone you know has been injured in an ATV or off-road vehicle accident, please contact us. We have extensive experience handling ATV cases and will be able to help you understand your options. Please call our office for a free consultation at 800-676-5295.