Zachary D. Campbell, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
The typical summer surge in all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries kicked off
early this year, as children were out of school due to COVID-19 and parents
struggled with juggling child care and working from home.
ATVs are not child-friendly toys, they are designed as an off-road vehicle
that can be viewed as a fun outdoor adventure for the entire family. However,
the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the
age of 16 should not operate ATVs.
Dr. Charles Jennissen, a pediatric emergency physician and clinical professor
in the departments of pediatric and emergency medicine at University of
Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, started a collaborative study with
Injury Free Coalition for Kids to compare injuries during COVID-19 to a year ago. Dr. Jennissen said
that overall injuries, including ATV-related injuries, are probably four
to five times higher this year because many don’t go to the ER.
In the U.S., about 40,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in emergency
departments for ATV-related injuries each year, according to the American
Academy of Pediatrics. The
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were 3,353 ATV-related deaths involving children (21%
of the 15,744 total deaths) between 1982 and 2018.
Although some ATVs are designed for younger children to ride, strict precautions
and adult supervision should be adhered too. ATVs with a saddle-seat and
handle bars are relatively unsteady. They have a high center of gravity
and narrow track, a combination that makes them a very high risk for rolling
over. Having the right safety equipment and information can help ensure
your adventure doesn’t turn into a trip to the hospital, or even worse.
10 Safety Tips for ATV Riders
An educational program called STARs, provides
safety tips for ATV riders. Some of their safety tips include:
- Always wear your helmet
- One person at a time
- Ride the right size machine
- Always wear your protective gear
- Never ride on the road
- Take an ATV safety course
- Tell someone where you are going
- Respect private property
- Never use alcohol or drugs
- Always obey the rules
ATV Safety Institute also provides invaluable tips and safety courses for ATV riders. If you
plan to hit the off roads on an ATV, consider enrolling in a course to
practice basic safety tips and proper riding techniques. A hands-on
ATV Rider Course and a free online
ATV e-Course are offered for all ages and experience levels.
An inspection of your
ATV before each ride is essential because the off-highway environment can
be harsh on vehicles. An inspection can minimize the chance of being injured
or stranded. The owner’s manual will show you what equipment to
check on your particular machine. The basic items to inspect include:
tires and wheels, controls and cables, lights and electrics, oil and fuel,
chain/driveshaft and chassis.
Familiarize yourself with how to operate an ATV before driving it. Try
a flat and even terrain on your first trip rather than attempting an advanced
or dangerous trail. If you are driving a single-rider ATV, you should
never carry another passenger. Likewise, if you are driving a two-person
ATV, do not exceed two riders (only one driver and one passenger).
Since ATVs are designed to be operated off of the streets, the Institute
recommends never riding on paved roads except to cross when done safely
and, of course, when permitted by law. Most cities and local governments
have strict laws prohibiting the use of ATVs on paved roadways.
Each state has its own ATV laws, including both safety and equipment requirements. Click
here to view Pennsylvania’s ATV laws and requirements. If you’re
taking your ATV on vacation, make sure you know the rules before you hitch
up the trailer.
Remember, no matter what state you are in, do not ride an ATV under the
influence. Drugs, alcohol, and ATVs never mix; you can be arrested and
charged for driving an ATV while intoxicated just as you can in a vehicle
or a motorcycle.
Most importantly, remember that YOU are your child’s role model.
Make sure that you are also following the recommended guidelines for riding
gear and safety rules. The Institute recommends always wearing the proper
equipment including goggles, long sleeve shirts, long pants, boots, gloves,
and a helmet.
So parents/guardians, set ground rules, gear up, and get ready to ride
on the trail to safety. We at Metzger Wickersham wish you a safe and enjoyable
If you or someone you know, has been injured in an ATV or motorcycle accident,
contact Metzger Wickersham. Call us at (888)-286-2850 or
email us to schedule your free consultation today.