Almost half of the deaths and injuries associated with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) involve children under 16. Most safety experts agree that children have no business on an ATV.
The primary problem with the ATV is that its center of gravity is too high. This allows it to easily become unstable during normal off-road usage. If it flips or rolls over, the result can be severe spinal cord injury or death for the rider. Since 1982 over 1,500 deaths and 475,000 injuries have resulted from ATV accidents.
The four-wheel ATV appears safer than the three-wheel design, but four-wheelers are also highly likely to tip or roll over. Four-wheel ATVs were involved in 72% of the fatal accidents in 1992.
ATVs are advertised as safe recreational toys for the family that are easy to operate. Because they are sold for off-road use, manufactured in different sizes, and do not require licensing, many consumers assume that some ATVs are safe for children. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) warns, however, that children under 12 are typically unable to operate any size ATV safely. This is because they lack adequate physical size, strength, coordination, mental abilities, and perception.
Driving slower does not make up for a child’s lack of maturity and skill. Fifty-three percent of the reported accidents involved ATVs traveling under 15 mph!
Although their large seats suggest otherwise, ATVs are not designed to even carry children as passengers. This only increases their instability.
Adults who choose to ride an ATV are encouraged to first enroll in a training course. The CPSC reports that the incidence of injury with ATVs is 13 times higher for untrained riders in their first month of use.