ATVs: deadly summer fun for children and adults alike
The popularity of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has soared during the past 10 years, becoming one of America’s favorite pastimes. But while more and more of us turn to ATVs for both work and play, our awareness of the deadly risks these vehicles present, especially when handled improperly, remains alarmingly low.
Inez Tenenbaum, Chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and a lifelong advocate for children’s health and safety, recently appeared on NBC’s Today Show to talk about the dangers of ATVs.
Because they aren’t made for use on roads and highways, ATVs aren’t regulated like regular cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Instead, they are fall under the CPSC’s regulatory authority and are treated with the same oversight as thousands of other consumer products.
“ATVs are the fifth deadliest product that we oversee,” Ms. Tenenbaum told Today. “Every year 700 people die and 136,000 go to the emergency room because of ATV related injuries.”
At the same time, the number of ATVs bought and sold in the U.S. has exploded. According to Today, there are about 11 million ATVs in use throughout the U.S. In 2000, there were just 4 million in use.
Sadly, every year children account for a significant number of ATV fatalities. In 2010, at least 55 children under age 16 were killed in ATV crashes and another 28,000 were seriously injured. It should come as no surprise that these powerful, heavy vehicles that send so many adults to the emergency room year after year are especially lethal in the hands of a child.
“Simply put, ATVs are dangerous to children,” said Dr. Robert Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns all parents that no child under the age of 16 should drive or ride an ATV.”
CPSC data shows that ATV-related deaths and injuries peak in the summer months of June and July.