Now that summer is here, many people will be hitting the trails on all-terrain-vehicles ("ATVs"). While ATV riding can be a fun and exciting way to explore the outdoors, it is also a highly dangerous and potentially deadly activity.
In January, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released the 2008 statistics for ATV related injuries and fatalities, which indicate that ATVs are among the most dangerous products that CPSC oversees. (2010 ATV data will not be available until 2012). CPSC reported that, in 2008, ATV accidents were responsible for 135,100 injuries requiring emergency room treatment and 410 fatalities (although CPSC cautions that the 2008 data is not complete and more deaths may be reported). While the number of injuries and fatalities were lower in 2008 than they had been in 2007, these figures demonstrate the danger inherent in the operation of ATVs.
Many factors contribute to ATV injuries and deaths, including: driving without proper training; hauling passengers or cargo against the ATV manufacturer's recommendations; allowing children to operate adult-size ATVs, generally considered to be ATVs with engines over 90 cubic centimeters; driving on public roads, which many states explicitly prohibit; driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications; and equipment failure. ATV accidents often result in traumatic brain injury, the most common form of which is closed head injury, caused when the brain rapidly accelerates and decelerates within the skull.
To reduce the chance of serious injury or death, ATV riders should always wear proper safety gear, including a full-faced helmet, gloves, boots, long pants, and a long sleeve shirt. In addition, riders should always heed manufacturers' warnings with regard to carrying passengers and hauling cargo. Finally, those new to riding ATVs should enroll in an ATV training course to learn the fundamentals of riding, and obtain information about protective gear and local regulations.