Jamie Lynn Spears‘ 8-year-old daughter Maddie is said to be in the hospital after an all-terrain vehicle she was riding on Sunday flipped over, reportedly leaving her under water for “several minutes.”
Similar ATV-related incidents have become commonplace as many take to the popular vehicles. In fact, a near-fatal ATV accident left Ozzy Osbourne in a coma for more than a week in 2003, ABC News reported. In April, Real Housewives of Orange County stars Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge were hospitalized after a four-wheeler accident in California.
Inez Tenebaum, chairman 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.
However, experts say that ATVs pose an even higher threat to children.
“Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines,” Sandra Hassink, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said. “The American Academy of Pediatrics warns all parents that no child under the age of 16 should drive or ride an ATV.”
While the Academy promotes the age restriction, the CPSC recommends that children ages 12 – 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s.
Of the estimated 93,700 ATV-related incidents in the U.S. in which victims were taken to the emergency room in 2014, more than 24,000 of those involved children younger than 16 years old, the CPSC reports.
With that, the CPSC has released some “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 experienced riders the skills to handle many of the unpredictable riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions.”