This month, we are posting information on ATVs and Off-Road Safety!
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) have become a big part of many families’ lives, both for recreation and work-related activities. They can also be fun to drive, and naturally children are eager to try them out. This can be a great opportunity for parents to model safe behavior and explain that just like driving cars, ATVs need adult skills and knowledge.
Injury experts agree that children younger than 16 years of age do not have the physical development or cognitive ability to safely drive these machines. If the vehicle is designed to carry a passenger, drive with great care, particularly with young children who may have difficulty holding on during sudden turns, or on bumpy roads. Also, young children do not have the strength to hold on for very long.
In Canada, 25 per cent of all ATV-related deaths are among children 15 years of age or younger. Also, injury rates have gone up by 50 per cent, probably because many more Canadians are using these machines than in the past. The group that represents all Canadian children’s doctors (the Canadian Paediatric Society), and some provincial doctors’ associations as well, have spoken out about the dangers of children under 16 years of age driving any off-highway vehicles. They have seen the severe injuries and tragic deaths first hand.
Once a child reaches 16 years of age, appropriate training classes are a great way to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to safety operate an off-highway vehicle. Helmets are also important for all drivers and on every ride (approved for ATV or motorcycle use). It’s not easy for children to be patient, but this approach may prevent serious injury or even death.
All-terrain vehicles are motorized vehicles that require adult skills and judgment. Canadian children continue to be injured and killed while riding ATVs.
Child use of motorized vehicles. Children and youth are at a special risk for ATV-related injuries and death as they lack the necessary knowledge, physical development, cognitive and motor skills to safely operate these vehicles.
Children under 16 should not use ATVs, regardless of its size or the power of its engine. Currently in Canada, ATV laws vary by jurisdiction and by location of use. Laws should also require use of appropriate helmets and mandatory safety training for all those operating ATVs.
Overview of concerns and recommendations
Children and youth are at special risk for off-highway vehicles (OHV) injuries and deaths as they lack the knowledge, physical development, cognitive and motor skills to safely operate the vehicles.1
Therefore, Parachute supports injury prevention measures including legislating age-appropriate OHV usage, driver education, and the proper use of protective equipments as well as banning passengers.
Legislating age-appropriate usage
OHVs pose significant risks, including death, to child drivers, passengers and pedestrians. According to data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP), serious injuries have occurred to children in recreational areas, on roads and highways and on farms.
Parachute joins a number of injury prevention organizations in calling for OHV regulations based on scientific evidence and reflecting the benefits of automobile legislative efforts, including a minimum driver age of 16 years. Parachute would also recommend a legislated minimum driver age of 16 years to commence OHV driver training programs.
We are very supportive of the principle of OHV driver training; however, we do not have enough evaluation research at our disposal to recommend a particular training approach. As outlined above, Parahchute recommends legislating a minimum age of 16 years for commencing driver training. However, in the absence of legislation preventing the operation of OHV by children under 16, Parachute does recognize the value of educating younger riders in rural and farming communities for the purpose of work and travel.
As hospital data indicates that head injuries are a serious risk of OHV incidents, Parachute advocates the use of appropriate helmets and clothing during OHV use for people of all age