Riding and operating ATVs is a favorite past time of children and adults in Delaware, particularly in our more rural counties. However, this exciting sport doesn’t come without its risks. While Delaware is fortunate not to have a high number of deaths resulting from incidents, crashes or rollovers on ATVs, in 2013 there were approximately 50 injuries requiring hospitalization to children under 15 from Non Highway Vehicle incidents, which include ATV incidents.
Effective July 2015, the State of Delaware enacted stronger ATV safety regulations for child and adolescent ATV operators. Delaware now has requirements that:
- All ATV operators under 18 must wear helmets meeting U.S. Department of Transportation standards
- No ATV drivers under 18 may carry passengers
- No one under 18 can be a passenger on an ATV unless the driver is 18 or older and the ATV is designed for passengers
These regulations are in addition to the requirement that all ATV operators must be at least 12 years old, unless under the direct supervision of a person at least 18 years old or on land owned or under the control of a parent or legal guardian. State regulations also prohibit ATV use on a public highway, street, sidewalk or right-of-way, except under certain circumstances.
Young ATV Riders Risk Injury or Even Death
Even though the laws of most states permit children and adolescents to ride ATVs, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age of 16 not ride ATVs.
Children and adolescents riding on ATVs risk serious injury or even death. Safe operation of an ATV requires physical skill and the ability to react quickly in response to changing vehicle dynamics. Child development research shows children and adolescents lack the cognitive judgment and motor skills to safely operate ATVs in all situations.
Consider these national statistics:
- 24% of ATV-related deaths in 1982-2012 occurred among children under 16
- Children under 16 accounted for 25-33% of the annual estimated emergency department-treated injuries from ATVs in 2001-2012
- ATV riding had the second highest hospitalization rate among sports and recreational activities according to a 2001 CPSC study
Riding ATVs can be dangerous for children under 16 for a number of reasons:
- ATVs have a high center of gravity, creating a tendency to roll over
- ATVs can sustain high rates of speed
- ATVs can weigh up to 850 lbs
Video – The Golden Rules of ATV Safety from Corey and Chris Massey
Links to other Resources