ATVs and OHVs (off-highway vehicles) are used recreationally throughout the U.S., and can be fun when used in a safe manner. However, ATVs can prove to be deadly when used without the proper training, when used in concert with drugs or alcohol or when ridden recklessly. Injuries and deaths from ATV incidents have actually declined since 2006; probably due to increases in awareness of their danger, the use of helmets and other safety equipment and government regulation. Unfortunately, some states there is no minimum age for ATV riders, nor are helmet safety laws in place. Many injuries occur without adult supervision and on ATVs too powerful for the rider.
Most ATV deaths result from the vehicle overturning or hitting something. The majority of ATV deaths and injuries are preventable, though. Approximately 75% of ATV collisions lead to in serious head or spinal cord injury. A spinal cord injury might result in lifelong paralysis. Head injuries are a major cause of serious, life-threatening or permanent injuries as well. Simply wearing a helmet drastically reduces the risk of a traumatic brain injury.
Some governmental debate around ATVs has included how to create federal guidelines for ATV safety. Dealers often offer optional instruction and classes on riding ATVs. However, many people do not take the classes, and sometimes even that training is inadequate. Of course, dealers and manufacturers also tend to oppose ATV regulation.
In Oregon, people under 18 must wear a helmet when operative an ATV. Parents responsible for those children are required to ensure the minor wears a helmet when operating an ATV. Also, ORS 821.290 states that individuals who operate snowmobiles or ATVs in a negligent manner that endangers another person or another’s property or causes injury to another are civilly liable.
Individuals who own and operate ATVs open themselves up for civil and even criminal prosecution when they negligently operate an ATV and cause damage to people or property. Owners can also be sued when they or others operate their machines in an unsafe manner or while using alcohol or drugs.
ATV owners also fail in their duty of care when they allow children to operate machines that are too powerful for the child, without the use of a helmet, without the proper training or allow them to recklessly operate an ATV.
Alternate names / spellings for ATV:
Three-wheeler, Four-wheeler, Dirt bike, Motorcycle, Sand rail, Dune buggy, Dune buggie, Snowmobile, Snowmachine, Snow-machine, OHV