“Nine-year old boy killed in ATV accident,” “Teen Dies in Four-Wheeler Accident.”

You may have missed the headlines, but their cause of death is a growing concern for youth across the nation. All-Terrain Vehicle sales are rising, but so is the number of injuries or deaths resulting from their use.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 4,541 deaths were associated with ATVs from 1982 to 2001. During that time, 37 percent of the injuries occurred to children younger than 16 years old; 95 percent who rode adult-sized machines.

“Parents or guardians should not permit youngsters to ride an ATV that is not recommended for their age group. Additionally, not all youngsters have the strength, skill or judgment necessary to operate an ATV,” say representatives from the ATV Safety Institute.

“If young people are using ATVs, they must have proper training, proper protective equipment and be able to fully comprehend the machine they are operating. Remember that it’s only as capable as the operator,” says Shari Burgus, Education Director for Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

With ATVs becoming work and play vehicles for more than 15 million Americans, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids is focusing attention on farm-related ATV safety. Research shows that factors leading to injuries include driver misuse and inappropriate rider behavior. Additional risk factors include:

  • Driving at excessive speeds.
  • Not wearing protective gear such as helmets.
  • Accepting unnecessary risks.
  • Accepting passengers.
  • Improper supervision or training.

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Peosta, Iowa is an official ATV training site. The training will be available for folks living in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. For more information on courses call (888) 844-6322. If you are outside of the training area, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800) 887-2887 to find the closest approved training course.

Remember to make every ride a safe ride.

  • Properly train and supervise drivers.
  • Restrict the use of ATVs by children.
  • Always wear personal protective equipment.
  • Do not operate on paved roads.
  • Refrain from unnecessary risks such as performing stunts, using alcohol or drugs, excessive speeding and accepting riders.
  • Do not operate an ATV in adverse weather conditions, insufficient light, hazardous terrain or an ATV in need of repair.