All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are motor vehicles designed for off-road use, and are most commonly used for riding through natural paths and for recreational and outdoor activities. Despite the fact that ATV tires have been optimized to provide safety and control when navigating through unpaved paths, there has been a dramatic increase in accidents related to ATVs. As a result, government officials have taken regulatory measures in an attempt to prevent further accidents.
But injuries and even deaths continue to rise, especially among young people and children. In May of this year, a young girl was taken to the hospital and reported to be in critical condition after her ATV crashed into a cranberry bog and landed on top of her. The 12-year-old girl’s older brother was riding on another ATV and helped pull the four-wheeler off his sister. She very nearly drowned from the incident but, thanks to his swift actions, is expected to survive.
Another family suffered a similar misfortune a few years earlier. In 2006, Mark and Katie Kearney lost a son in an ATV accident. The boy, Sean, was staying at his friend’s house where they were allowed to ride ATVs without adult supervision. Sean’s ATV tumbled over, and five days later he died of brain injuries sustained from the accident.
The Kearneys are presently lobbying “Sean’s Bill” in their state. The bill calls for the prohibition of children age 14 and younger from riding ATVs. The current state policy permits children 10 years of age and older to ride ATVs under the supervision of an adult. Additionally, the bill aims to increase the penalties for violators. If the bill passes, guardians and parents who allow their young children to ride ATVs will see higher penalty fees and face the possibility of criminal charges.
As exemplified from the two accidents, the majority of ATV deaths and injuries are the result of the vehicles overturning or colliding, and many of the reported accidents occur in the absence of adult supervision. The risks and consequences of ATV accidents involving children can be reduced significantly or prevented. Owners of ATVs, especially the parents of children who drive these vehicles, should take full responsibility in supervising their children at all times and following even the most basic of safety precautions.