Adult ATVs Not Safe for Children

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 19, 2005

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering whether the popular all terrain vehicle's need a safety boost. This summer alone, more than 50 kids have died while using ATVs.

"We have seen child fatalities at UVA within the past year," said Julie Haizlip, M.D., an Assistant Pediatric Professor.

Experts say it's as a result of children riding on adult ATVs. "They're very big machines. They're between 400 and 600 pounds, the engine size is large, and they go up to 75 miles an hour, and as a result children just do not have the physical strength to control these," said Haizlip.

Brad Metzger, who sells ATVs at his sporting goods store, P Bee Sports, said this happens because people misuse the equipment. The warning labels are everywhere advising children not to ride an adult ATV, and no more than 1 person should be allowed on an ATV made for 1 person.

"The manufacturers also offer training at no charge to the person that buys the ATV so that they can take care of the safety issues as they come up," said Metzger

However, critics said these warnings aren't preventing children from dying. On average 121 children die each year and 36,000 go to the emergency room with injuries.

Now, some are pushing for a federal ban on the sale of adult size ATVs for use by children under 16. Still, some feel that once parents purchase the ATV they have the responsibility of not letting children go for a ride and even more regulation isn't going to help.

"People are going to do what people [are going to] do regardless of what the law says," said Metzger.

Right now, the Safety Comission is considering making training a requirement for anyone who buys an ATV. They can also make it mandatory for dealers to provide death and injury statistics to potential customers.

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