How Dangerous Are ATVs? The Risks and How to Stay Safe on the Popular Vehicles
ATV-related incidents have long been commonplace as many take to the popular vehicles in the warmer months. Earlier this month, a father and two teens were killed in Kentucky after the all-terrain vehicle they were riding in fell over a steep embankment.
Ronnie Akins, 47, his 19-year-old son Dillon Akins, and Dillon’s friend, Jonathan Laws, also 19, died after the vehicle fell down the embankment last week, the Associated Press reported. A spokesperson for the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the news to PEOPLE.
On Monday, Christopher Simmons Jr., 17, and 10-year-old Jermiia Scarborough crashed in a four-wheeler around 6 p.m. in South Carolina, according to The State. Both died as a result of their injuries. The incident marked the second deadly ATV crash in the area over the Memorial Day holiday weekend: a 21-year-old volunteer firefighter, Stephen Campbell, died just days earlier, The State reported.
Authorities have long warned of the dangers ATVs pose, even as they provide a fun, adventurous time for riders. Inez Tenenbaum, former chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, called ATVs one of the “deadliest” products that the commission oversees.
“Every year 700 people die and 136,000 go to the emergency room because of ATV related injuries,” Tenenbaum told NBC News in 2012.
Over a 32-year period (1982-2013), 524 people died on ATVs in Tennessee, 677 have died in California, and 735 in Texas, according to the CPSC.
With that, the CPSC has released several “rules of the trail” to combat the high number of ATV-related deaths and injuries
Do Not Drive ATVs on Paved Roads
ATVs are designed to be driven only on off-road terrain surfaces, not paved roads, according to the CPSC.
“ATVs are difficult to control on paved roads and are at risk of overturning, or hitting or being hit by cars and trucks,” officials said.
Do Not Allow a Child Under 16 to Drive or Ride an Adult ATV
“Riders younger than 16 should ride an age-appropriate youth model ATV with a speed limiter,” the CPSC recommends, warning parents to check the ATV label that shows the recommended age for that specific model.
Do Not Drive ATVs with a Passenger or Ride as a Passenger
As fun as riding with a buddy may sound, the CPSC warns against doing so, noting that an overloaded ATV could make it more difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.
“Never have more people on an ATV than it was designed to carry,” officials said. “If there is only one seat and one set of foot pegs, it is a single-rider ATV and only the driver should be on it.”
Always Wear a Helmet and Other Protective Gear
The commission recommends that riders wear eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when taking to the vehicle.
Take a Hands-On ATV Safety Training Course
The ATV Safety Institute offers courses to drivers. According to the commission, “hands-on training can give first-time riders and experiences riders the skills to handle many of the unpredictable riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions.”