CPSC Reports Increase in Off-Road Vehicle Deaths, Often Involving Children

ATVs were linked to more rider injuries and deaths than any other vehicle, according to the CPSC report, which indicates children under 12 make up nearly half of all off-road vehicle deaths

Deadly accidents linked to off-road vehicles have increased significantly in recent years, primarily impacting children and older adults, when operating ATVs that overturn or crash into stationary objects, according to a new federal report.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its annual report on off-highway vehicle deaths and injuries on May 30, hoping the new data, and proper safety awareness, will help prevent the upward trend in deaths from continuing to rise this summer.

Off -highway vehicles (OHVs) are defined by the CPSC as any vehicle with more than two wheels that fall into categories such as All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs) or Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs).

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Off-Highway Vehicle Deaths

According to the CPSC report, OHV-related deaths increased 33% from 2019 to 2020, the most recent year the CPSC has complete data for. The report warns that children under 12 make up nearly half of the deaths that occurred among teens and children from 2018 to 2020. It also found that adults 55 and older make up 30% of all OHV deaths.

CPSC researchers determined that ATVs were involved in more than two-thirds of all off-road vehicle related deaths. In addition, certain states had significantly more deaths than others, with Pennsylvania, California, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Florida collectively accounting for approximately one-quarter of the fatalities.

From 2018 to 2022, an estimated 504,400 emergency department-treated injuries in the United States were associated with off-road vehicles. This averages to approximately 100,900 injuries annually. The most common injuries were fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries, with 76% of the injured being treated and released.

The CPSC has issued around 24 off-road vehicle recalls since January 2023.

Children and Off-road Vehicles

The CPSC and other health officials have warned about the risks of off-road vehicles for years, particularly those involving children.

A study published in 2017 in the medical journal Pediatrics outlined how children under 17 are more likely to be injured or killed while riding ATVs.  In 2020, the CPSC released an ATV warning, indicating 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.

In 2018, over 81,800 ATV-related injuries were treated in emergency departments, with at least 17% of these cases resulting in hospital admission. The most common injuries were contusions, abrasions, or fractures to the arm, head, neck, leg, and torso. Children younger than 16 years old accounted for an estimated 26% of these injuries; the highest of any age group.

“Riding an OHV should be an enjoyable and safe experience. Unfortunately, our annual report shows it is often a dangerous activity,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a press release. “Deaths have gone up by 33% and those affected are disproportionately male. We are also seeing more deaths from OHV use in children under 16. We must reverse this trend and put safe riding first by wearing a helmet with proper gear and staying off paved roads.”

The CPSC provided a list of tips to make riding OHVs safer, including:

  • Getting hands-on training from a qualified instructor
  • Never riding with more passengers than there are seats
  • Staying off paved roads
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption before or while riding
  • Restricting riders younger than 16 to age-appropriate youth models
  • Making sure to wear a helmet and protective gear like eye protection, gloves and proper clothing


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