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Should children be banned from riding on ATVs?

All-terrain vehicles, popularly known as ATVs, are multipurpose vehicles that can weigh up to 600 pounds and can travel at speeds up to 75 miles per hour.

Since 1982, ATV accidents have resulted in 5,000 fatalities with riders under 16 suffering the highest rate of injury according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Ameriprise reports 105,000 all-terrain enthusiasts are injured annually. Twenty five-percent of both injuries and deaths involve children. Riders who are 16 years old and younger are two times as likely to be injured on adult ATVs as opposed to youth ATVs.

Citing the ineffectiveness of manufacturer warnings aimed children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all riders wear helmets, attend safety courses, and receive an ATV license. Mandating licensure would effectively end children using adult ATVs.

The CPSC and AAP have joined forces in recommending a ban on children under 16 using adult ATVs. The AAP has also allied with the Consumer Federation of America in calling for the CPSC to reject the manufacturing of "transitional" youth model ATVs capable of traveling at speeds up to 38 miles per hour.

Regardless of any changes in ATV manufacture and option, riders should put safety first. Foremost Insurance provides the following tips:

  • Read the manual and keep it in the vehicle at all times
  • Check controls, lights, fuel and oil levels, switches, chains, driveshaft, tires and chassis before departure
  • Know the local laws and regulations, along with areas where riding is allowed
  • Take a training course and practice operation to improve skills and reaction time
  • Wear appropriate clothing and a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet and eye protection
  • Be aware of surroundings, specifically terrain, visibility, weather conditions, hazards and obstacles
  • Stay away from pavement and public roads
  • Do not carry passengers without a passenger seat
  • Adhere to the service schedule and ensure repairs are performed by an authorized provider
  • As with any motor vehicle, avoid drug or alcohol use before driving

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