Kids ATV Safety: ATV Fun or Safety Hazard?

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Kids ATV Safety: ATV Fun or Safety Hazard?

Kids ATV Safety: ATV fun or safety hazard?

Riding an All-terrain Vehicle (ATV) can be fun, but it can also be extremely dangerous – especially for children under the age of 16. While operating a motor vehicle on our nation’s roadways is limited to those who have reached the proper age limits, completed the required instruction permit period, testing, and licensing, riding an ATV has much less stringent laws guiding its use.

A recent report by leading public health experts finds an epidemic of serious injuries involving children who ride ATVs and that efforts to protect children from ATV dangers have largely fallen short.

Both the academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons recommend keeping all children under the age of 16 COMPLETELY OFF all-terrain vehicles, citing their inability to handle the power and the speed of adult-sized ATVs (and even child-sized ATVs).

ATV accidents and children: The stats

Public health experts estimate that some 150 children are killed (and an estimated 4,000 hospitalized) each year in ATV accidents.

In fact, a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that the number of kids hospitalized for ATV injuries has more than doubled since 1996. Since the 1980s, when federal officials began tracking deaths from ATV crashes, about a quarter of the more than 10,000-recorded fatalities have been for children under age 16.

How to keep safe on ATVs

While the experts agree that children under the age of 16 should NOT ride ATVs, for those who refuse to heed their warnings, the ATV Safety Institute provides these guidelines to help keep riders safe:

Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over – the – ankle boots, and gloves.
Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law – another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
Take a hands-on ATV RiderCourseSM and the free online E-Course.
Visit ATVsafety.org or call 800.887.2887 for more information.

While ATVs may be considered a way of life for some, it’s important to note that children are at an increased risk of falling, rolling over, or being thrown from these machines as their size, inexperience, and limited decision making skills make it much harder for them to operate these vehicles safely.

For this reason, it is imperative that parents and legal guardians understand the dangers inherent in youth ATV use and the guidelines in place that govern their use.

Minnesota guidelines for ATV and OHV use

Here are a few of Minnesota’s Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Regulations for 2015-2016 pertinent to children aged 10 and under:

All kids aged 12 or older, must have a valid ATV Safety Certificate to operate on public lands, trails, and frozen waters and when crossing road rights-of-way. Proof of completing an ATV safety course that includes a riding class component offered by the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) or another state is adequate to meet the safety certificate requirements of Minnesota.

Anyone under the age of 16 must have permission from their parent or guardian to operate an ATV.
Anyone under the age of 16 may not operate an ATV on public lands or water, or on state or grant-in-aid trails, if the person cannot properly reach and control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs while sitting upright on the seat.
Anyone under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet while operating or riding on public lands, trails, and frozen waters and when crossing road rights-of-way.

Youth Class 1 ATV Operation

In addition to the above, children aged:

Under 10 may operate an ATV

only on private property with permission of the owner.

10 and 11 may operate

only on private property with permission of the owner.
an ATV up to 90cc on public lands and frozen waters if accompanied by parent or
legal guardian.

Anyone under the age of 15 may NOT operate a Class 2 ATV anywhere.

For a complete list of 2015-2016 Minnesota OHV Guidelines please visit the DNR’s state guidelines.
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