New Report Highlights Risk Factors That Contribute to Fatal ATV Accidents
Although All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) can provide an exciting off-road experience or a productive form of farm equipment, these vehicles pose a serious risk of injuries or fatalities. Through the first eight months of 2015, fatal ATV crashes have claimed the lives of 357 people throughout the U.S., including 79 children age 16 or younger. The authors of the article highlight a number of common elements that contribute to ATV accidents.
The most common factor cited by the authors involves using an ATV on roadways rather than solely for off-road purposes. Among the fatal ATC accidents that could be classified as either an off-road or on-road crash, nearly 58 percent involved use of a quad or other type of off-road vehicle on a roadway. However, ATVs are not designed to be used on any type of road. Despite the inherent danger of using an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on a roadway surface, municipalities, counties, and states have engaged in a consistent trend of opening up roads to these vehicles.
Many people assume that OHV is only unsafe on paved roads, but this misconception has tragically resulted in debilitating head and spinal cord injuries as well as fatalities for many recreational and farm users. A recent study, entitled All-Terrain Vehicles Fatalities on Paved Roads, Unpaved Roads, and Off-Road: Evidence for Informed Roadway Safety Warnings and Legislation, found that driving an OHV is unsafe on roadways regardless of whether the surface is gravel or paved with asphalt or blacktop. The study reviewed data from 6,625 deaths involving the use of an ATV on roads over a thirty year period and found that 42 percent occurred on unpaved roads.
This new report that is intended to guide lawmakers when enacting ATV safety legislation notes a number of other key factors that contribute to fatalities when operating a Rhino or other type of quad, which include the following:
- Helmet Use: An ATV is similar to a motorcycle in that it offers limited protection to riders. While a passenger car offers a plethora of protective options, such as a reinforced passenger compartment, seatbelts, and airbags, ATVs leave riders vulnerable to catastrophic injuries. This risk is magnified by the high likelihood that an ATC will rollover in a collision. Helmets can significantly reduce the risk of suffering a TBI, which can result in loss of mobility, impaired cognitive function, loss of speech ability, and even death.
- Weight, Size, and Age Appropriateness: Children under the age of 16 should never be allowed to operate an ATC that is designed for an adult. Young riders should also be limited to ATVs that are not too large or powerful for their size, maturity, and physical strength.
- Designated Number of Riders: Although some ATVs are designed for more than one rider, operators of these vehicles should never transport anyone else unless the vehicle is designed for passengers. Further, ATV operators should consult the manufacturer guidelines to determine how many passengers the vehicle is designed to handle. ATV operators should never exceed these limits.
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