Last year, six-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen was enjoying the outdoors riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV.) After hitting a curb, she went flying in the air and landed on the pavement with a severed spine. Amy was incredibly fortunate to be alive. Today, this champion is in a wheelchair, striving to achieve the ability to one day walk again.
Unfortunately, Amy’s story in not unique. In 2012, there were over 100,000 emergency visits for ATV-related injuries. Approximately 25% of these visits were with children younger than 16 years old.
Between 1982 and 2013, there were over 13,000 reports of ATV-related fatalities in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC.) Sadly, 23% of these were children under 16. (CPSC data: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/ATV-Safety-Information-Center)
In the last decade, ATVs have become popular not only for recreation but also for transportation on farms and ranches. Along with this increased use in the U.S., we have also seen an increase in injuries and fatalities.
ATVs can be a fun recreational sport and a very useful vehicle on the farm if drivers take safety precautions. If you are considering using an ATV, we urge you to follow these important recommendations from the National Safety Council (NSC):
- Take a Safety Course. All ATV drivers should take a hands-on safety course from a skilled instructor. Courses are offered by the ATV Safety Institute as well as some local ATV rider groups, National 4-H Council groups, state agencies and ATV manufacturers. The ATV Safety Institute (ASI) offers an ATV RiderCourse that is free to anyone who has recently purchased a new ATV. For new owners of used ATVs, the course can be taken for a small fee. The ASI is a not-for-profit division of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America®. For safety information or to enroll in a local ATV RiderCourse, visit atvsafety.org or call 800-887-2887.
- Read Up! Read the owner’s manuals carefully before driving.
- Wear the Right Gear. The ATV Safety Institute recommends that all drivers wear appropriate riding gear including U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) certified helmets, goggles, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long-sleeve shirt and long pants.
- Steer Clear of Paved Roads. Never operate the ATV on any paved roads. ATVs are designed for unpaved roads and can be difficult to maneuver on paved roads.
- Operate age-appropriate vehicles. Over 90% of ATV-related injuries involving children are due to lack of developmental skills to properly maneuver adult-sized ATVs. ATVs with engine sizes greater than 90cc should only be operated by individuals 16 years old or older; ATVs with an engine size of 70cc to 90cc should be operated by people at least 12 years old. Children under 6 should never drive an ATV.
- Never carry passengers on an ATV. Most ATVs are not designed to carry people other than the driver.
- Don’t add any attachments to a ATV unless it is approved by the manufacturer. Attachments can affect the stability, operating and braking of the ATV.
- Ride only on designated trails. Always use a safe speed.
Inspect before riding. In addition, you should always complete a thorough inspection before riding. Here are the key questions to ask:
- Is the rider wearing appropriate helmet and gear?
- Are the tires and wheels in good condition?
- Are the controls and cable operational?
- Is the chain lubricated and have the right amount of slack?
- Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
(Information adapted from Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC,) ATV Safety Institute (ASI), and National Safety Council (NSC) websites.)
Do you have questions about ATV safety?
Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can answer them. Contact us at (954) 428-9333 or www.goldmandaszkal.com.
Since 1990, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. has provided reputable legal representation to people throughout Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. The firm has helped thousands of individuals recover compensation from motor vehicle and boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, product defect and liability cases, pharmacy errors, and negligent security cases to cover medical expenses, pay bills, take care of their families, and return to work. Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can help you get the relief you need to start living your life again after a serious injury. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Goldman & Daszkal, P.A., at (954) 428-9333.