ATV’s can be a useful tool for the farmer or rancher and can also be an exciting toy many families. All-terrain vehicles became popular in the 1980’s as an off-road recreational and sporting vehicle. Agricultural workers use ATVs to inspect and maintain crops, property, livestock, and more. In addition, there are attachments and implements made for ATVs such as snow blades to push snow and mowers to cut grass and weeds.
The majority of ATV accidents are not caused by design flaws in the equipment, but because of operator error or misuse, or because the operator does not wear personal protective equipment such as helmet and goggles*. Children are involved in about one-third of all ATV-related deaths and hospital emergency room injuries.
Farm Safety Just for Kids states the following:
Nearly half of youth ATV related fatalities involve head and neck injuries. Most ATV-related injuries involve youth not wearing a helmet.
Less than 4% of injured ATV riders participated in formal safety training.
ATV operators under the age of 16 are 4.5 times more likely than older operators to receive injuries requiring emergency room treatment**.
Accidents with ATVs do not happen to only youthful operators. In their 2006 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there were 146,600 injuries nationwide and of those injuries, 39,300 were riders younger than 16. They also report over 8000 deaths since 1982, and of those, over 2300 were less than 16 years of age.
Riding ATVs can be safe and enjoyable if the operator follows a few ATV safety related tips. Among those generally accepted safety guidelines, or tips, are:
- Always wear appropriate riding gear, including a helmet and goggles.
- Never ride on public roads and paved surfaces***.
- ATV tires are not designed for road travel. (Most states will allow agricultural uses along public roadways. See individual state requirements for limitations.)
- Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Properly train and supervise drivers.
- Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
- Always ride an ATV that is right for your age.
- Keep ATVs in good operating condition; including tires and wheels, braking and steering.
- Remember, by following these safety tips and using good judgment, your ATV can be both a useful tool and an exciting toy!
* Texas Cooperative Extension- The Texas A&M University System 09/04 ATV Safety
** National Ag Safety database (NASD)- ATV Safety
*** National Ag Safety Database (NASD- ATVs and Youth: Matching Children and Vehicles)