About 136,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) related injuries in 2004. And from 1982 to 2004, almost 6,500 people died in ATV-related accidents. Nearly a third of all these deaths and injuries involved children under the age of 16.
But not only is the number of ATV-related accidents and injuries high, they are increasing at an alarming rate (injuries doubled in a recent five-year period). This is due in large part to their phenomenal popularity. Four-wheel ATVs in use in the U.S. has increased from about 2 million to over 6.9 million in the last decade.
The first ATVs were sold in the U.S. in 1971. These three-wheelers were involved in so many rollover accidents that the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that ATV manufacturers were violating the Consumer Product Safety Act. By 1987, ATV manufacturers discontinued making three-wheeled ATVs, but they did not recall the 2.4 million that had already been sold. Some of these dangerous vehicles remain in use today.
Even four-wheel ATVs are being blamed for accidents caused by design and manufacturing defects. Numerous ATV Accident Lawsuits have been filed against ATV manufacturers for “failure to warn” that the manufacturers knew of a hazard with regard to their vehicles yet did not warn consumers about it. Since 2000, hundreds of thousands of ATVs have been recalled.
Another problem with these types of vehicles is that children often ride ATVs intended for adults instead of the youth models. ATVs are not toys, especially when one considers that adult ATVs can weigh up to 800 pounds and travel at 60 miles per hour. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 90 percent of children under the age of 16 who died in an ATV-related accident were driving or riding as a passenger on an adult ATV.
Following are some common-sense tips for safer operation of ATVs:
- Children should only operate appropriately sized ATVs and should receive specialized training. Engine sizes between 70cc and 90cc should be operated by persons at least 12 years of age; engine sizes over 90cc by those 16 years of age or older.
- Both children and adults should enroll in an ATV safety course. Contact the ATV Safety Institute.
- Wear DOT- and Snell ANSI- approved helmet, gloves, goggles, long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and boots that cover the ankles.
- Do not carry passengers.
- Be aware that any attachments affect stability and breaking.
- Never operate ATVs on paved roads, streets or highways.
- Carefully read the owner’s manual.
If you are involved in an ATV accident, you should generally follow the same steps as those for an automobile accident, including getting medical attention, collecting as much information as possible, and writing down a detailed account of the accident, while your memory is fresh. Please search our directory of injury lawyers to speak with an experienced ATV accident attorney near you.