All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), commonly referred to as "quads" or "four-wheelers," are off-road vehicles usually intended for recreation, although some ATVs are used for rescue purposes. Early models of ATVs were "three wheelers," but safety concerns eventually led to the mandatory cessation of sales of "3 wheelers" by the government in 1988. However, huge safety issues still plague the ATV market even with the four wheeled products. There are approximately 1000 deaths annually and estimated emergency room injuries exceed 150,000 for users of these recreational vehicles.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has kept death and injury data on ATVs or Four Wheelers since 1982 and the statistics are alarming. ATVs pose safety risks because of the inherent structure of the vehicles. Four Wheelers are often built on a narrow wheel base with a high center of gravity which results in a high number of rollovers. Furthermore, many are built without doors or side protection, so the driver is more likely to be subject to ejection or head, neck and limb injuries. Making matters worse, in many states, ATVs do not have a minimum age requirement for the driver, so the number of children killed or injured is of great concern. 74 deaths and 37,700 injuries (requiring Emergency Room services) for children under the age of 16 were reported in 2008, and 124 deaths and 40,000 injuries were reported in 2007.
Many models of ATVs have been recalled due to the large number of injuries and deaths. The Yamaha Rhino, which is a side-by-side style ATV, has had a disproportionate number of accidents resulting in roll-over injuries and deaths because it has an even higher center of gravity and a narrower track width than some other ATVs. Many of the rollovers occur during relatively low speed turns. Over 100,000 Rhino ATVs have been recalled for safety concerns.
ATV Safety Recommendations
- Attend a training and safety course for the vehicle
- Do not use/drive ATVs when under the influence of drugs/alcohol
- Do not allow children to operate or ride ATVs or four wheelers
- Wear proper protective gear, especially helmets
- Drive at a safe speed
- Do not drive on paved roads
- Do not allow multiple riders on a vehicle
- Do not operate 3 wheeler ATVs (they were banned but they were not recalled)
Even when safety precautions are followed, ATVs or Four Wheelers can present dangers. If you or a family member has had an accident resulting in injury or death, you can contact an attorney to learn if you have a claim against an ATV manufacturer. Brett H. Oppenheimer, a Kentucky ATV injury attorney, will consult with you and counsel you as you face the difficulties that an ATV injury or death can cause. Call Brett at (502) 242-8877.
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