Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dangers of All Terrain Vehicles: Recalls and Young Riders

As reported by CPSC, an estimated 850 people lose their lives in ATV-related incidents each year. One out of five deaths are to children younger than 16. In 2006, 39,300 children under 16 sustaineed serious injury. While many deaths and injuries occur when a child is driving or riding on adult ATVs, recent youth model ATV recalls highlight an urgency to consider the dangers associated with all ATVs. Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety for Consumer Federation of America adds, “The constant drumbeat of increases in injuries and deaths caused by ATVs shows how significant this public health epidemic has become. This tragic problem is in need of an aggressive and immediate solution.”

There have been four youth model ATV recalls in June and July. KYMCO, SunL , Arctic Cat, and Kawasaki have recalled over 13,000 units due to hazards that could lead to a loss in the riders control and result in serious injury or death to riders. In the past five years, there have been nearly 70 ATV recalls all together, indicating a need for a revised and improved safety standard.

Current voluntary ATV safety measures include age recommendations that advise consumers against riding some ATVs if under the age of 16, warning labels that communicate safety information and training opportunities for ATV purchasers. These current voluntary safety measures are insufficient and fail to protect our children. In fact, many children continue to ride adult ATVs with engine displacements of over 90cc. The American Academy of Pediatrics more strictly recommends that children 16 years old and younger not ride any ATV. Similarly, the Consumer Federation of America responds by saying that the use of adult ATVs by children under 16 years old should be banned.

When selecting an ATV consider the age, experience, maturity, height, and weight of the rider. Also, consider the ATVs type and features such as, power, supervisory control, speed and brake controls. Remember that ATVs of all sizes can be dangerous and consider the safety risks before allowing children to ride on one.

Until a revision in legislation occurs, it is important for consumers to remain informed on ATV recalls and to practice safe riding. Here are some important riding tips to follow:

  • Never place a child under the age of 16 on an adult-sized ATV
  • Supervise younger riders on youth model ATVs
  • When riding an ATV, always wear a helmet and safety gear
  • ATVs should not be ridden on paved roads
  • Know the terrain
  • Most ATVs are designed for only one rider, for those designed for two riders -children under the age of 12 should never ride tandem
  • Three-Wheeled ATVs are banned and should never be used

For more information and data on ATVs, please visit atvsafety.gov, CPSC, and Consumer Federation of America.

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