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All Terrain Vehicle Safety Concerns

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Recreational All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) have always been a problem for safety advocates who have now called for a new set of ATV standards including a ban of three-wheeled ATVs. These advocates have also long battled manufacturers and their associations to ban the sales of adult-size ATVs for use by children.

A study on ATV-related deaths and injuries released this February by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports on the available 2006 data. There were 555 fatalities and over 146,000 injuries in 2006 compared to 666 fatalities and over 136,000 injuries for the previous year. Further, these numbers for children younger than 16 were 111 fatalities and 39,000 injuries for 2006 while for 2005 there were 145 fatalities and 40,000 injuries. The trend of marginally lower death rates and increasing injuries seem to apply for the years since 2000.

Better equipment including helmets and protective gear, better understanding of proper riding methods and usage and effective consumer safety campaigns have apparently played a part in lowering the number of deaths. It appears that the increasing number of ATV Accident injuries is due to growing ATV usage and their availability.

ATVs suffer from an inherent design flaw that often goes hand in hand with the accidents and injuries they cause. The point of an ATV’s centre of gravity is high – top heavy, meaning while they can let their rider go easily over rough and uneven surfaces, they can also tip and rollover in an instant. Doesn’t take much – just a sizeable rock striking an ATV’s tire at a certain angle – to flip the vehicle over. And that usually ends in an injury or worse for the rider. ATVs meant for adults are sizeable – anywhere from 250 –2000 pounds and can go as fast as 60 m.p.h. So, it’s easy to picture the destruction that would happen to a child rider.

The All-terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI) provides training and education for ATV riders. It offers free training for purchasers of new machines. This CPSC Web page has a lot of useful information for safe ATV riding.

From a personal injury standpoint ATVs are handled much like other motorized vehcile cases including “defect” claims against the manufacturers and sellers.

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