July may be the deadliest month for ATV riders, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This year, the agency says, it’s already heard of almost 160 deaths related to ATV accidents around the country. Nearly 30 of those deaths were children under the age of 16. Experts say that recent data not only shows more children and adults getting seriously injured or killed in ATV accidents, but accidents also increase around the summer months. For example, between 2004 and 2006, just the months of March and April saw the number of children under 16 killed in ATV accidents rise over 65 percent. The same time period saw adult deaths rise 85 percent.
This year, the CPSC says, at least 18 ATV-related deaths happened over the Memorial Day weekend holiday. Experts from the CPSC say that recent years show that these higher rates of death and injury usually peak in July.
All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are powerful autos that can go well over 60 miles per hour and can often weigh more than 700 pounds. Unfortunately, too many parents and riders assume that the vehicles are more like toys than serious machines. Because of this, many riders don’t treat their ATVs with the proper caution and ride in unfamiliar terrain, at high speeds, and without proper safety equipment. The CPSC says that many riders are unaware that ATVs actually pose a very high rollover risk, particularly in rough terrain. This high rollover risk means that all ATV riders should undergo training and be aware of just when and where it is safe to ride.
The CPSC recommends that all ATV riders follow these safety tips:
- All ATV drivers, both adults and children, should take a hands-on ATV safety course from a certified instructor.
- Do not allow children younger than 16 years old to drive or ride adult ATVs. Children younger than 16 years old do not have the skills to safely drive adult ATVs. More than 90 percent of all injuries to children happen because of this.
- Likewise, children younger than 6 should never be on an ATV–either as a driver or as a passenger.
- Always wear protective gear–especially a helmet–when riding an ATV.
- Do not ride on a single-rider ATV as a passenger or carry a passenger if you drive one.
- Never allow more people on any ATV than the vehicle was designed to carry.
- Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. ATVs have solid rear axles, which make turning on paved surfaces difficult and dangerous. It also increases the risk of the ATV overturning or hitting another object, such as a tree or car.
For more information about ATV safety and regulations, visit the CPSC’s ATV safety website.