Children At Highest Risk Of ATV, Off-Road Vehicle Injury: CPSC

Federal safety officials indicate that children face the highest risk of injury riding ATVs and similar off-road vehicles, resulting in warnings about the importance of all riders following safety precautions and avoiding operation of the vehicles on roadways.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) warning on August 25, stating that children under 16 years of age are at the highest risk of injury or death from ATV-related accidents, often due to incorrect ATV sizing or from colliding with other vehicles on roadways.

As many find themselves looking for new outdoor activities due to cancelled vacations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, officials warn those taking up ATV riding to follow a series of safety recommendations that can prevent emergency room visits and fatalities.

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According to recent data, more than 81,800 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries were reported in 2018, with at least 17% of these injuries resulting in hospital admission. The most common injuries found among ATV-related ED visits were contusions, abrasions or fractures to the arm, head or neck, leg, and torso.

Of the 81,800 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries, an estimated 26% involved children younger than 16 years of age, the highest of any group.

From 1982 to 2018, there have been a total of 15,744 ATV-related fatalities received by the CPSC. Of these fatalities, 3,353 involved children younger than 16 years of age, and 1,465 (44%) of those deaths involved children younger than 12 years of age.

Officials indicate many of the incidents were the result of colliding with on-highway approved vehicles, which may be traveling at much greater speeds, or due to severe injuries caused by instability and difficulty controlling the off-road vehicles on paved surfaces.

ATVs and other recreational vehicles are designed to be driven only on off-road terrains, and not paved surfaces. Often, ATV’s are unstable and difficult to control when driven on paved surfaces due to wheel and shock designs meant to absorb rougher terrains. These vehicles regularly pose a tip-over hazard when making turns at increased speeds.

Safety officials warn that operators should always receive hands-on training from a qualified instructor on how to drive the vehicles and children or riders younger than 16 years of age should only operate age-appropriate youth models.

The CPSC also recommends riders always wear a properly fitted helmet and other protective gear such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and to never drink alcohol before or while driving an ATV.

Safety officials encourage consumers to always be aware of recalls pertaining to their off-road vehicles, as often the vehicles are subject to CPSC recalls due to faulty parts or design defects that can result in fires, tip-over hazards, steering loss and other circumstances that can cause serious injuries and even death to drivers and occupants.

To date, CPSC officials have facilitated at least a dozen ATV recalls in 2020 involving Polaris, Honda, Kawasaki, Bobcat, and Textron models for a variety of problems such as brake line failures, loss of steering wiring defects that may cause electrocution and fire hazards and braking issues that may allow roll-away risks.

One of the most popular ATV brand, Polaris Industries, was hit with a $27.25 million civil penalty in April 2018 by the CPSC, which settled claims over the manufacturer failing to report 150 ATV fires in certain model Polaris RZR and Ranger vehicles, which caused burn injuries to consumers, and at least one fatality of a 15 year old passenger.


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