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Dangerous ATVs

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In 2002, the latest year for which figures are available, manufacturers sold 825,000 all terrain vehicles (ATVs). That was more than the number of small pickup trucks sold. Manufacturers such as Kawaski Motors, Honda, Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Yamaha say they previously promoted snowmobiles, but now focus on ATVs.

As ATV sales rise, so do the numbers of injuries and deaths, particularly among children. In 2002, there were 113,900 serious injuries and 357 deaths.

ATVs fall into a regulatory void. Because they don't operate on roads, they aren't subject to regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA), the agency concludes states are in a better position to regulate.

Only 10 states require a driver's license, 27 require a minimum age for the driver, and 20 states require riders to wear helmets. Two-thirds of states allow 12-year-old drivers. In Utah, 8-year-olds are legal.

The first ATVs had three wheels and were difficult for untrained drivers to handle. After many deaths, manufacturers switched to four-wheel models.

Safety regulations being considered in some states bring important messages to ATV owners, such as:

* No passengers should be allowed on ATVs. Young children should never be carried as passengers. They are usually thrown off in an accident and sometimes the vehicle rolls over them.

* Riders should be licensed drivers and be at least 16 years old.

* ATV drivers should wear goggles and helmets.

* The ATV should never be driven on a paved road.
ATV use results in more injuries per vehicle than cars.

Long Island Safety Articles > Dangerous ATVs

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