All-terrain vehicles, often abbreviated as ATVs, are a class of recreational, motorized vehicles designed for off-roading. ATVs are usually equipped with three or four low-pressure wheels and are designed to carry a single rider in a motorcycle-like straddle position. Used for both practical and sport-related purposes, ATVs have become incredibly popular in recent years.
Unfortunately, along with the ATV’s popularity has come a slew of accidents, injuries, and deaths associated with these vehicles. Because ATVs lack the safety features of an enclosed passenger automobile (seatbelts, airbags, etc.) and, like motorcycles, are open-air vehicles, they offer little protection to their riders in case of an accident. Children are especially vulnerable; studies suggest that about 40% of all ATV-related deaths occur among children younger than 16.
ATVs are small but powerful machines; many are capable of reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour. Younger children simply do not have the experience or ability to handle such powerful vehicles – especially the larger and stronger adult models. Off-roading itself is also a naturally dangerous activity. Furthermore, since ATVs are meant for single-passenger use, double-riding is a very dangerous behavior which unbalances the vehicle and makes an accident or rollover more likely. The structural design of an ATV also makes the vehicles unsuitable for on-road activities.
In 2003, nearly 750 ATV-related deaths were reported, along with over 100,000 cases of injury. Common injuries caused by ATVs include broken bones, head trauma, and facial injuries. In severe cases, paralysis or death can result.