A Dangerous Mix: Children and ATVs

children and ATVs

You may have fond memories of visiting friends or family members who owned ATVs such as four-wheelers. Your parents may even have had lax rules about ATV safety or maybe they didn’t even know that you snuck a ride on your older cousin’s four-wheeler, but even if you walked away without a scratch it doesn’t mean that ATVs were any safer in the past than they are today.

As a parent of young children, you may be faced with the same dilemma your parents faced decades ago. Do you let your kids have a little fun and hop on a four-wheeler? Unless you have an appropriately sized ATV vehicle for your child and your child is physically prepared, the smart and safe answer should be “no”.

Should Children Have Access to ATVs?

ATV use is popular across the country due to outdoor loving, thrill seeking riders. While ATVs can provide hours of outdoor fun and adventure, they are also utilitarian vehicles used to provide transportation in rural areas. One thing that many fail to acknowledge is that ATVs are not created for kids and, as a result, children well below the age of 16 are injured and even killed because they don’t have the proper strength or skill to safely operate an adult-sized ATV.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, throughout the past decade, nearly 1,200 children have been killed across the USA and a further 350,000 have been hospitalized after riding an adult-sized ATV. Additionally, approximately 90% of the children who were killed while riding ATVs, were riding ATVs specifically designed for adults.

Why are ATVs particularly dangerous for younger children? At full speed, they can exceed 60 miles per hour and are as difficult to control as a road vehicle. Like other vehicles, according to Damon Ellis, a West Virginia car accident lawyer, speeding can lead to the operator losing control of his or her vehicle.

Are There Any Exceptions to Children Operating ATVs?

There is no single rule about ATV use across the U.S. and this is troubling since an ATV requires the same kind of coordination, strength, and skill as other vehicles, yet cars can’t be legally driven by individuals until they are around 16. If you wouldn’t trust your child behind the wheel of a car, then he or she has no place riding an adult-sized ATV alone. To further stress this point, The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents that no child under the age of 16 should operate or ride an ATV because they are simply incapable of operating the heavy and complex machines.

If you are intent on allowing your child to participate in a life of ATVs, you must make careful and smart decisions about your purchase. For instance, is your child coordinated or strong enough to safely operate an ATV that is designed for his or her age? Secondly, does he or she have mental maturity to make safe and smart decisions?

Additionally, power and speed should be a crucial part of your decision making. Don’t buy something too big or fast with the hope that your child might “grow into it”. As a parent, always supervise your child while he or she operates their ATV, consider enrolling your child in an ATV safety course and always make sure your child is wearing proper safety gear.

By Amy Patterson

Author Bio: Amy Patterson is an avid reader on trending topics and a writer in her spare time. On the beautiful coast of North Carolina, you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach with her family. She loves to write pieces on health, fitness, and wellness but often writes about families and safety.

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