All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are an increasingly popular type of recreational vehicle. These powerful machines come in three-, four-, and even 6-wheeled varieties and can carry riders at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Designed for off-road activities, ATVs are especially popular with younger, predominantly male demographics.
In recent years, ATVs have gained much negative attention for their high injury and death risks. ATV rollovers and other accidents claimed nearly 750 lives in 2003. In the same year, over 100,000 people were injured while riding ATVs. It is no surprise that these popular vehicles came under intense scrutiny. Why are ATVs so dangerous?
One reason is that ATVs have very high power outputs but very few safety mechanisms. Although ATV engines can be very powerful and reach very high speeds, the vehicles simply lack the safety features of a standard passenger car, such as airbags and seatbelts. Even the most basic safety feature of a car – its solid metal framework – is missing from an ATV. Lack of training may also contribute to the high fatality rate; young, inexperienced drivers operating more on adrenaline than common sense are certainly prone to making dangerous or even fatal mistakes.
In some cases, a rider may simply be mismatched with his or her ATV. A younger or smaller rider, for example, should never be riding a large, powerful ATV intended for adults. Putting such a powerful vehicle into the hands of a child is a recipe for disaster. In fact, statistics indicate that nearly half of all ATV victims are children under 16 years old.