July 4th is the deadliest day to ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Consumer Federation of America’s Safety Coalition is urging riders to abide by the “Golden Rules” of riding to avoid injuries and deaths. Operators and passengers should always use appropriate safety equipment, stay off roadways, and only ride ATVs that are right for their age.
How Dangerous Are ATVs?
There are over 11 million ATVs in the United States. These recreational vehicles have a reputation for causing injuries and deaths. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned of the dangers and says they are the fifth deadliest product it rates. According to the CPS, more than 136,000 emergency room visits are attributed to ATVs every year.
Data from the Consumer Federation of America shows an alarming trend with ATV accidents. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 3,000 deaths were reported from ATV accidents. Out of this number, 417 deaths occurred during July, with 65 percent occurring on roadways, 30 percent occurring off-road and 4 percent in unknown locations.
Preventing Deaths and Injuries
Some ATV accidents are caused by design defects and faulty equipment. The majority of crashes, however, are caused by improper operation by the rider.
To reduce the risk of injuries and deaths, it is recommended that operators and passengers:
- Take a hands-on safety course before operating ATVs
- Never operate ATVs on paved roads except to cross. These vehicles are designed for off-road use only.
- Always use appropriate safety equipment including DOT-approved helmets, goggles, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts
- Never drive or ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Never allow more passengers to ride on the vehicle than it is designed to safely transport
- Only ride age and size-appropriate ATVs
ATV manufacturers have helped make it easy to recognize which vehicles are designed for children or adults through color coding. Blue ATVs should not be ridden by children under the age of 16 and yellow ones should not be ridden by children under the age of 14.
Additionally, parents should set ground rules to help their children ride safely. Children younger than 16 should be supervised when riding ATVs.