All terrain vehicles (ATVs) have a reputation as being dangerous, as each year, many adults and children are seriously injured or even killed by accidents or wrecks. Just like any vehicle, the short answer is: yes, ATVs are dangerous, the same way cars, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, or trucks are dangerous. Far too often, these accidents involving ATVs come about due to improperly using the vehicle or ignorance about the vehicle. Riding an ATV does not guarantee an injury just as riding in a car does not guarantee an injury; however, certain safety precautions should be taken in order to minimize risk.
For starters, no one under the age of 16 should ride a full sized ATV. This is a recommendation put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics and should be taken as law. Children under the age of 16 do not have the development necessary for operating a vehicle of this magnitude. There are options for children who are interested in riding an ATV, as manufacturers make smaller models with less powerful engines for children. Before anyone gets on an ATV, he or she should be sure to know the proper rules for operating the vehicle. Training courses for ATV driving are offered all over the country, so be sure to enroll in one before you begin operating the vehicle. Finally, the rider should wear protective gear--including a helmet, gloves, boots, and eye protection--to protect their body from hazards of riding an ATV or potential accident.
Many ATV accidents occur when more than one passenger is riding on the vehicle. ATVs are designed for only one person, and the weight of two individuals can cause the vehicle to turn over. Also, the distraction of having another person on the ATV can cause the driver to wreck. Furthermore, ATVs are designed for off road driving and should not be driven on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. In addition to the hazards of riding on a road with cars and trucks, ATVs do not perform well on hard surfaces and are incredibly difficult to control.
Most accidents occur while the driver of the ATV is using the vehicle improperly. This includes navigating dangerous terrain, riding at excessive speeds, or dangerously interacting with other individuals or ATVs. Keep in mind that your ATV is designed to go a certain speed over certain terrain, so speeding should be avoided at all costs, since the vehicle can tip over or crash. Furthermore, any stunts or tricks using an ATV should be avoided, since that is the easiest way to get injured.
While riding an ATV, be sure to have some sort of communication device, whether it is a walkie talkie or a cellular phone that can call for help in case of emergency.