In the spring-summer season of 2013, an alarming increase of accidents
and injuries involving All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) have been reported.
ATVs come in a variety of configurations, including models large enough
for four riders. The more commonly known ATV is also referred to as a
“quad” or “4-wheeler” and is set up much like
a snowmobile or motorcycle but ridden on a set of four wheels.
Antiquated 3-wheel ATVs still exist (also called “trikes”),
but are no longer legal to manufacture due to their instability and high
potential for a frontward rollover. While still dangerous, 4-wheel ATVs
are considered to be more stable.
Warnings Fail to Reduce ATV Accident Injuries
Each year, theConsumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues warnings about the accident risks involving ATVs. Despite
prominent campaigns to increase safety awareness, the number of new injury
cases reported by emergency rooms each year has either remained relatively
constant or has increased.
As of 2013, the CPSC reports approximately 135,000 ATV accident-related
injuries across the US. These accidents result in nearly 800 fatalities
each year, most of which are children.
One infamous ATV accident led to the death of former Dave Matthews Band
saxophonist, LeRoi Moore. In 2008, Mr. Moore was riding his ATV on his
farm and hit a ditch that was obscured by tall grass. The unexpected change
in terrain was enough to flip the ATV, causing it to land on Moore. He
suffered several broken ribs and a punctured lung. Though he was initially
released from the hospital, he was readmitted a few weeks later and died
from complications that doctors attributed to the ATV accident.
Recent ATV Accidents and Injuries
The early summer of 2013 has seen its share of ATV tragedies in news headlines.
Since July 1st, at least nine ATV accidents were reported in the Southeast
resulting in three deaths and ten injuries. One of the cases involved
a Georgia teen who was riding as a passenger and was killed when she was
thrown from the ATV onto hard pavement. Two of the other accidents took
place in Missouri; five year old operating an ATV was injured as were
a 16-year old operator and the three year old passenger riding with her.
It is very important to note that the vast majority of ATVs (quads/4-wheelers)
are meant for single riders only and are not designed with seating or
foot pegs for passengers.
Furthermore, manufacturers of ATVs and other personal recreational vehicles
provide placards and warning labels with each piece of equipment warning
against the operation by any person under the age of 16.
The Struggle to Increase ATV Rider Safety
Many states also have laws or statutes in place governing the ATV operation.
Some states require riders to attend safety training courses prior to
operation. Others enforce manufacturer recommendations and prohibit riders
under the age 16. In nearly all states, ATVs are banned from use on paved
public roads. Their short wheel base and high center of gravity makes
ATVs highly accident prone on level surfaces like pavement, especially
when coupled with speed capabilities beyond 60mph. ATVs are designed to
navigate uneven terrain at safe, moderate speeds and are not intended
to provide a stable riding platform at a high rate of speed. Racing ATV
models are designed for professional competition and perform much differently
from those commonly sold to the public.
Many safety advocates argue that injuries can be reduced by spreading awareness
through rural communities, particularly starting at the middle and high
school levels. A more thorough understanding of the equipment’s
purpose, capabilities, and limitations may give the next generation of
ridersgreater respect for safety and a heightened level of situational