How parents can keep kids safe when driving ATVs

Outdoors Bound

FILE – In this March 29, 2007, file photo, ATV riders hit a trail on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails near Gilbert, W.Va. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says the famous Hatfield-McCoy Trails can reopen later this month as he continues to lift the state’s coronavirus restrictions. The Republican governor said Friday, May 8, 2020, that the trails can open on May 21. They were closed in late March. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner, File)

(WFXR) — The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that COVID led to more people looking at outdoor recreation, including an increase in demand for all-terrain vehicles (ATV).

Safety specialists say their concerns are with inexperienced riders who will be hitting the trails without proper equipment and safety gear.

According to the World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc.’s recent report from the summer, there was a 39 percent increase in injuries treated and a 149 percent increase in children up to age nine. That data was between March and September of 2020.

“That extra time at home created more opportunities to use ATVs, and unfortunately that can mean more accidents,” said Dana Fisher, chairman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Farm Safety Advisory Committee. “It’s crucial to select the correctly sized equipment and make sure up-to-date, properly fitting safety gear is included in any purchase.”

Each year, approximately 40,000 children under 16 are treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these injuries are sustained from riders being thrown off ATVs, and in crashes or rollovers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that ATV-related deaths totaled 15,744 between 1982 and 2018. Of those deaths, 3,353 were children ages 16 and younger.

Here are some tips from the Farm Bureau’s safety committee about ATVs:

  • Make sure that if the ATV is used by a child it is sized correctly. They should be able to reach the handlebars comfortably and rest their feet on the footrests
  • People under 16 years of age, can not operate a full-size ATV in Virginia.
  • Youth-size ATVS are 90cc and can be operated by children 12 and older
  • Children 12 and younger can operate 70cc ATVs
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation says children should wear properly fitted safety gear and helmets that fit a child’s head
  • Parents can sign children up for ATV safety classes at Virginia Cooperative Extension agent or free online courses on the ATV Safety Institute website
  • Safety officials say parents should perform safe riding themselves and make sure children know how to operate the vehicle safely
  • Do not carry passengers
  • Stay off public roads and only ride on designated trails at a safe speed

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