Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Slow down! And be safe!"

This last weekend my husband told me that he thought we needed a four-wheeler upgrade as the
I am constantly reminding my husband to, "Slow down, and be safe!" when he's
using a four wheeler.  From 2013 to 2015, there were 28 reported deaths
associated with ATVs in Montana.  Photo by Kari Lewis.
current ride was, “Just too lethargic for chasing cows.”  Having seen his four-wheeler riding skills, I don’t think any more speed is needed, as I am constantly telling him (and my dad) to slow down, and be safe!  Personally, I can think of at least five individuals who’ve had a four-wheeler accident within the last year or so, with four of the five being in their teens or early 20’s.  With school out and many more youth on All Terrain Vehicles (or ATV’s), hearing of accidents seems to become much more common.

In Montana, there was 28 reported deaths associated with ATVs from 2013 – 2015, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Nationwide, 12% of the nearly 600 ATV-related deaths were children under 16 years of age. 

Data from the Journal of Pediatric Child Health notes the following:
  • Males are involved in over three-fourths of ATV crashes leading to injury.
  • Children less than 16 account for almost one-third of ATV injury-related emergency department visits and 30% or more of ATV injury hospitalizations. This 16 and under age group is responsible for almost half of all ATV related deaths. 
  • Three-wheeled vehicles have been shown to increase the risk of injury three-fold, and are not recommended due to their increased instability.
  • Passengers are commonly cited as a risk factor for ATV crashes and injury, as they reduce the driver’s ability to control the ATV, and also throw the ATV off balance.  In studies of children hospitalized for ATV injuries, the driver was carrying a passenger nearly 30% of the time.

If you have a youth who will be riding an ATV, make sure they are riding an appropriate youth sized machine.  Most ATV’s commonly weigh 600 to 800 pounds, and children are not physically mature enough to handle an ATV of that size.  Kids’ small size, combined with their inexperience and immature decision-making skills contribute to children’s increased risk of injury.  Before operating an ATV, drivers should be able to operate the throttle and brake levers with one hand, know how to shift their weight on an ATV, and have at least three inches of clearance between the seat and their pants when standing up. 

Often, the only instruction on riding an ATV that a youth may have, is what they’ve seen in an ad or on a video game.  If you know a child who will be riding an ATV this summer, please make sure they have an appropriate sized machine and take the time to teach them how to properly operate it.  Lastly, no rider should be allowed to ride double on an ATV as that changes the center of gravity and can make an ATV more prone to tipping. 

While my message today focused on youth on ATV’s, the message of slowing down and driving safely on ATV’s applies to all who use them.   And chances are, as long as we keep using ATV’s to move cows, I’ll keep telling my dad and husband, ‘Slow down, and be safe!’  

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