Off-roading is one of Americans’ favorite leisure-time activities. All Terrain Vehicles (also known as ATVs or four-wheelers) are vehicles that are typically driven on dirt roads or sand dunes rather than public streets.
Many parents let their children drive ATVs but this may be a mistake. Many doctors nationwide, including the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children under the age of 16 not be permitted to drive an ATV. Children under the age of 12 are advised not to use ATVs at all by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons as they believe they do not have the body size, strength, or coordination to safely handle the vehicle.
Young teens can recognize hazards, but take longer than older teens to react. Visual perception, motor skills and balance are also still under developed. While each child differs, it is usually best to wait until your child is at least 16 years old before allowing him or her to operate an ATV. Even after the age of 16, maturity should be considered as any teen that acts impulsively will face danger while driving an ATV.
ATVs can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and typically weigh as much as 600 pounds. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 37,000 children were injured and at least 74 children were killed in ATV accidents. To prevent severe injury or even death while riding an ATV, please keep in mind these important safety tips:
Check for Size – Children should not drive adult-sized ATVs. For drivers under the age of 18, make sure the ATV is age and size appropriate.
Safety Courses – Take your child to an ATV driver’s safety course before allowing them to operate an ATV. To find safety classes near you, call the ATV Safety Institute at (800) 887-2887. California residents can find information on safety classes here.
Safety Gear – All children should wear eye protection, long pants, closed-toe non-skid shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and a helmet when operating an ATV.
Location – The ATV should never be driven on public roads or at night.
Visibility – Just as with bicycles, reflectors and lights should be used to make ATVs more visible.
No Passengers – Most ATVs are made for single drivers. Don’t allow your child to carry a passenger on a youth-sized or single-passenger adult ATV.
ATV riding should be a fun experience for the whole family. Following these safety tips will help ensure that a family outing does not turn into a tragedy. The attorneys at the Alexander Law Group, LLP have years of experience representing clients who have been injured in accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact us online or call 888.777.1776 for a free case consultation.