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Are Off-Road Dirt Bikes Safer Than ATVs?

November 16, 2012

Most people recognize the dangers associated with motorcycles related to their lack of structural protection, safety equipment and handling. Due to their having four wheels, many people assume that ATVs are safer vehicles than a vehicle with only one or two wheels. However, a study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins found that ATVs are significantly more dangerous in crashes than those involving two-wheeled off-road motorcycles. The study analyzed 60,000 accidents involving ATVs and off-road motorcycles between 2002-2006. Some of the surprising results include the following:

  • ATV accident victims are 50 percent more likely to die than off-road motorcycle accident victims.
  • Victims of ATV accidents were 55 percent more likely than off-road motorcyclists to be admitted to a hospital ICU.
  • Those involved in an ATV crash were 42 percent more likely than those in an off-road motorcycle collisions to be placed on a ventilator.

It is widely thought that any four-wheeled vehicle must be safer than a vehicle with only two wheels, but this research shows that ATVs are so dangerous that this general assumption does not apply.

Based on this study, ATV accident victims are more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. ATV recreational sports have grown in popularity along with resulting ATV accidents. ATV accidents result in 376 ATV fatalities and almost 132,000 injuries annually.

The researchers were surprised and not certain how to explain the unanticipated results. Although sixty percent of motorcycle riders were wearing helmets as opposed to only 30 percent of those riding ATVs, the researchers indicate this does not adequately account for the results. Even if all riders of both types of vehicles had been wearing helmets, the researchers indicate that ATV accidents would still have resulted in a higher fatality rate and more serious injuries than off-road motorcycles.

Those who conducted the study believe that the difference may be attributable to disparities in the safety gear used and the weight of the vehicles. While most states have mandatory helmet laws for motorcycles, these laws are extremely rare for ATVs. Those who ride ATVs also tend to wear no other protective gear. Because ATVs are much heavier, they also may be more likely to result in crush injuries causing major internal organ injuries and damage to extremities than motorcycles.

ATVs are motorized vehicles with large low-pressure tires, can weigh up to 600 pounds and travel up to 75 mph. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 16 be prohibited from operating ATVs, there are no such legal restrictions in most states. ATV accidents may be caused by negligence of the owner of the ATV, driver of the ATV or product defects with the design or manufacture of ATVs.

If you or a loved one is injured in an ATV accident or you suffer the loss of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Georgia ATV accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.