For some people in Missouri and Illinois, an ATV is used as a major means of transportation. In rural settings, sometimes an ATV is the sole mode of transportation to some areas that are not reachable by road. Many parents start training their children at an early age how to ride and drive an ATV so that they can help with household chores or participate in recreation. Many adults are not aware that they could be placing their children in harm’s way by allowing this behavior and putting them at risk of an ATV crash.
The ASI (ATV Safety Institute) has been vigilant in lobbying state and federal governments for more extensive safety regulations for riders of ATVs. Most importantly, an ATV should NEVER be operated by someone under the age of 16. Children under the age of 16 lack the mental maturity and skill level that is required to operate the vehicle. Further, most children who are under the age of 16 could not safely operate the ATV, because they are not heavy or tall enough to properly navigate turns.
In order to safely navigate a turn on an ATV, the rider must use the “lean and turn” method, which requires them to lean in the direction of the turn while having their opposite foot planted firmly on the outside foot peg. Being as most children who are under 16 would likely not meet the height and weight standards for riding the vehicle, increasing their chance of an ATV crash.
Approximately 504 people died in an ATV crash last year. Of those people, 102 were people under the age of 16. 49 of those ATV crash deaths involved a child under the age of 12. Many adults, and children alike, think that since ATVs are heavy duty, that they would make a great vessel for a child or teenager. NOTHING could be further from the truth.
ATVs have a high center of gravity, a narrow wheelbase, and low pressure tires, which makes them highly likely to tip over in certain conditions. One of the most likely areas to sustain an ATV crash is during on-road operation. These vehicles are made specifically to handle rough terrain and uneven surfaces. That is why the tires are low pressure. They can easily navigate ruts, rocks and logs. However, operating this machine on an even surface or paved road significantly increases the chance of an ATV crash.
56% of the deaths in an ATV crash last year occurred on a road. The low pressure, knobby tires cannot handle sharp turns at traffic speeds. Even driving 25-35 mph on a paved road on an ATV can cause a major crash. Some ATV makers have recognized the danger and included additional warnings on their vehicles. Honda has included a label to include language that states their ATVs should “…never be operated on a roadway…If you need to cross a road in operating, please get off your ATV and walk the vehicle across.”
Although they majority (63%) of states in the U.S. allow on-road use of ATVs, it is not wise to engage in this dangerous behavior. Several states, including Missouri, have passed recent legislation leaving the regulation of these vehicles up to the localities within the states, such as counties and cities, to decide on their own whether these vehicles should be allowed on roads.
It is important to remember these facts to avoid an ATV crash:
- Always wear a helmet and as much protective gear as possible in case of an ATV crash
- NEVER allow anyone under the age of 16 to operate your ATV
- Educate your children on ATV crash safety practices while riding with someone over the age of 16