Exploring the outdoors in an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is an activity that many people find fun. However, people's carelessness and lack of safety awareness often heightens the serious safety risks of ATVs.
Children's use of these vehicles poses hazards to them that parents and other caregivers need to know about. In 2012, there were an estimated 26,500 serious injuries among children younger than 16 in ATV accidents. If you're going to let your child use an ATV, here's a quick kids' guide to staying safe on ATVs:
Don't allow children to drive or ride on adult ATVs
Children under 16 shouldn't be operating or even riding as a passenger on an adult ATV, which not only weighs a lot but can go at speeds of over 70 mph; they're much more likely to get injured on an adult ATV than on an ATV model designed for kids.
If you want your child to be on an ATV, you can pick out models of ATVs geared towards children of different ages. There should be labels from the manufacturer and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with recommendations for appropriate age use. The child ATVs are smaller and should be much slower; they should also have devices that limit the speed of the vehicle even more.
Don't permit any ATV use for kids under 6
Children under the age of 6 shouldn't even be on a child ATV model (let alone an adult one), as either an operator or passenger.
Wear the right safety gear
This includes a well-fitted helmet approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), goggles, and gloves. Long sleeves and pants, along with boots that cover the ankles, should also shield you to some extent against cuts and other minor injuries from twigs, shrubs and rocks.
Sign up for an ATV safety course
The lack of any kind of professional training for ATV use increases the risk of an accident and injury. Teach yourself and your kids about how to handle these vehicles properly by working with a certified instructor.
Supervise your children
Supervise children under the age of 16, lay down strict safety rules, and suspend ATV activity if your kids exhibit any kind of recklessness.
Learn the terrain in advance
Be cautious about where you're taking your ATV. Stick to a designated trail and don't lose sight of your kids. Find out about any hazards in the area, including bodies of water such as ponds or rivers.
Don't go out on paved roads
Even in a community that permits this, you should avoid paved roads. If you use paved roads, you increase the likelihood of getting hit by a motor vehicle. It's also more likely that the ATV will be harder to control, as they aren't designed for use on paved roads.
In the event of an accident, don't hesitate to contact us to review what happened and obtain our assistance. But hopefully it won't come to that. There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors, and if you feel that ATVs are too risky for your kids, avoid them altogether. However, if you do want to introduce your kids to ATVs, be sure to follow safe practices.