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October 25, 2012

Kids and ATVs: A Lethal Combination

The tragic report by The Province of a young boy being killed in an ATV accident has once again sparked talks of stricter safety standards for off-road vehicles. The four year old was killed when he was riding with his father and the ATV hit a drainage ditch, flipped and landed on top of them. Both riders were wearing helmets and goggles, but the boy died at the scene of the accident.

Similarly, a nine-year-old boy in Alberta died the same day when he was ejected from an ATV while riding as a passenger. This boy wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Children should always wear protective safety gear to help prevent injuries. But the problem is that many of the ATVs are 400-500 pounds heavier than the children that are riding. In an accident involving an ATV, safety gear won’t protect children from serious harm.

The concern parents and the Canadian Paediatric Society have is that legislation does not reflect the danger that ATVs present to youths and children under the age of 16. Out of all ATV crashes, one-third are children, and half of deaths from ATV crashes are children under 16.

SafeKids Canada shows current Canadian legislation for ATV use per province with B.C. and Alberta having the worst standards. Neither province has age-related driver restrictions or legislation for helmet use while operating an ATV.

In North America, Massachusetts is the first state to make it illegal for children under 14 to ride on ATVs. In this state, operators aged 14 to 16 must complete education and training classes. This law is named Sean’s Law after the eight-year-old boy who was killed in an ATV accident.

Parents, be aware of the dangers of letting a child use an ATV, even if on private property while wearing protective gear. Smaller ATVs that are designed for children are still dangerous and heavy. Many children do not have the proper motor skills and lack the experience and knowledge necessary to be able to operate a machine properly. Put their safety first.

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