All-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety tips
All-terrain vehicles have gained popularity in recent years – but, the fun associated with them comes with great risk too. Our trauma team has seen several ATV-related injuries this summer alone.
ATVs are best reserved for riders 16 and older
Many families look for outdoor adventures in the summertime, especially this summer as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines. If your family includes children younger than 16, ATVs are probably not the best option. Although there are youth-sized versions, Safe Kids Worldwide, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons recommend that children under the age of 16 not ride ATVs of any kind.
“Kids often don’t have the mature judgment or quick decision-making skills to react appropriately when riding a vehicle that can travel 75 miles per hour or faster. It’s not uncommon for these ATVs weighing several hundred pounds to tip over, throwing the driver off and potentially even rolling onto them, which can result in very serious injuries,” said Corri Miller-Hobbs, registered nurse and Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator. “Sadly, more than 20,000 children under age 16 are injured or killed on ATVs every year.”
How can you protect your family from ATV-related injuries?
Older kids and adults can sustain serious injuries too – even the best drivers. Before your loved one hops on for a ride, our safety experts recommend reviewing the following tips:
- Wear proper protective equipment, including a motorcycle-style helmet with eye protection, closed toe shoes, long pants and sleeves, and gloves. A chest protector is also a great idea to offer an extra safeguard in the event of a crash or rollover.
- Only ride ATVs with four wheels. Three-wheelers have been deemed unsafe and are no longer being manufactured and sold new.
- Closely inspect your ATV before riding to make sure all parts are in safe working order.
- Ride at speeds that are appropriate given the trail conditions and driver’s ability level.
- Do not carry passengers. Most ATVs are designed for one person only.
- Take a hands-on ATV safety course before hitting the trails.
- Stay off public/paved roads. ATVs have a high center of gravity, solid rear axles and off-road tires with low pressure, making maneuvering on paved surfaces difficult and dangerous.
- Use lights, reflectors and flags to make the ATV visible to others and never ride at night.
- Look for safety features including a seat belt and roll-bar when purchasing an ATV.
Looking for more resources to help keep your kids and family safe? Visit our Safe Kids Virginia page.