ATV Vehicles and Teenagers – A Deadly Combination

by Jeffrey A. Leikin | September 14th, 2011

Last year the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)  released their annual report concerning  injuries and deaths occurring while using all terrain vehicles (ATV).  The statistics were eye-opening.  In a study conducted from 1982-2008 there were a reported 9,633 deaths of ATV users.  A staggering 40% of these deaths were children younger than 16 years of age between 1982-1989, declining to 27% between the years 1990 to 2008. Further, more than 12% of these deaths involved children under the age of 12 years old.

Estimates of individual users reporting to emergency rooms with ATV related injuries during this period also indicate rates ranging from as high as 45% involving children under the age of 18 to 27% in any given year.  Rachel Weintraub, Directer of Product Safety for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), recently surmised from these statistics that “ATVs are still causing hundreds of deaths and well over a hundred thousand injuries a year, which makes them one of the most dangerous products that the CPSC oversees.”

The problem associated with these findings is clear. Why are we as parents and neighbors turning over to our children and the children of our neighbors “one of the most dangerous products that the CPSC oversees”?  The truth is teenagers are too young to be able to appreciate the risks involved with their actions while driving these vehicles.  Unbeknownst to this age group, helmets and seat belts, if used, offer little protection from injury or death while operating ATVs.

When ATVs were first introduced in the early 1970s they were marketed as a fun toy for the entire family to enjoy.  The ATVs’ unsteady wheelbase and lack of roll bars were largely disregarded in picturing the enjoyment of running up and down hills with these seemingly unbreakable vehicles. Huge treaded tires able to go through water, mud or even snow at high speeds made the user seem invincible.

Unfortunately, I, as a litigator, have witnessed the carnage caused to vehicle owners and clients whose children have been lost or injured at too early an age in the pursuit of fun and excitement. These vehicles have no business being in the hands of our children. Please read this report and pay attention to its warning.

Authored by Attorney Jeffrey A. Leikin