Are ATVs really safe for kids?

ATVs cause thousands of accidents each year that kill or seriously injure young riders, many of whom are under 16.

In recent years, ATVs have grown in popularity. Sold throughout Missouri, they give people a fun way to explore mountain paths, hard-to-access country roads and enable people to transport gear and other supplies on large ranches and farms. There are even trail groups where ATV owners can get together and go exploring. ATVs are not only popular with adults, they are also popular with teens and younger children, and many have asked whether these vehicles are really safe for kids to be on.

ATVs turn over easily

The biggest risk of riding on an ATV is that it can flip over easily. This is because the power goes to the back wheels and when someone turns the throttle too fast, the boost can cause the ATV to rise up on its back wheels. This is especially true in situations where someone may be trying to climb up a slope or is riding through rough terrain. This occurred to one 12-year-old boy, according to OU Medicine. The boy's mother stated that he was probably making a turn and over-corrected, or that he hit a bump while driving too fast. The vehicle flipped over, trapping him, just minutes after he started off on it.

Built for adults

While there are some ATVs that are built smaller for younger riders, most of them are designed with an adult in mind. Kids Health states that some have the ability to go 50 miles per hour and there are others that can go even faster. Furthermore, these vehicles weigh up to 800 pounds and this can make them difficult to handle - even for many adults.

No protection against serious injury

Unlike cars, ATVs offer no protection to riders. While people are encouraged to wear helmets, they are not required and it is quite common for people and kids to be seen riding around on these powerful machines in nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts. If the vehicle rolls over, flips backwards or the rider is projected forward, there is nothing there to cushion the blow.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2014 report, 26 percent of the over 93,000 injuries treated for ATV accidents in emergency departments were children under the age of 16. The leading types of injuries suffered were to the neck or head, arms from the shoulder down and legs.

ATV accidents can be fatal

The CPSC also reports that almost 4,000 children under the age of 16 were killed in accidents involving ATVs from 1982 through the end of 2014. In Missouri, it is estimated that between 301 to 400 children have died during this same period.

Dealing with a serious injury or death can be difficult. When people have questions, they may find it helpful to talk to a personal injury attorney.