Each year as the temperature rises, the reported number of all-terrain vehicle (ATV)-related incidents also increases. It is just a matter of time before we start hearing of ATV accidents in the Northwest Florida area. There are places in the country that are already seeing a spike in ATV accidents and we haven’t even hit the middle of summer. In Tennessee, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has already seen close to 10 ATV trauma-related admissions since April of this year. According to Purnima Unni, MPH, CHES, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, “Two common things we see with our ATV trauma admissions are that they are not wearing helmets and they are either carrying passengers or are a passenger themselves. Both scenarios can result in serious injuries.”
Children are more prone to ATV injuries because of their lack of experience operating motorized vehicles, lack of psychomotor control and coordination, and lack of judgment that can result in risk-taking behavior and poor decision-making skills.
Under Florida law, the term “all-terrain vehicle” means any motorized off-highway vehicle 50 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 1,200 pounds or less, designed to travel on three or more non-highway tires, and manufactured for recreational use by one or more persons. In addition, an “all-terrain vehicle” also includes a “two-rider ATV” The law states:
· No person under 16 years of age shall operate, ride, or be otherwise propelled on an all-terrain vehicle unless the person wears a safety helmet meeting United States Department of Transportation standards and eye protection.
· If a crash results in the death of any person or in the injury of any person which results in treatment of the person by a physician, the operator of each all-terrain vehicle involved in the crash shall give notice of the crash pursuant to s. 316.066.
· Except as provided in this section, an all-terrain vehicle may not be operated upon the public roads, streets, or highways of this state, except as otherwise permitted by the managing state or federal agency. To operate an off-highway vehicle in a careless or reckless manner that endangers or causes injury or damage to another person or property.
Even though Florida law allows children under 16 to ride ATVs if they have taken a safety course, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) that children 16 and under should not ride ATVs due to the high risk of serious injuries. Even over the age of 16, ATVs are dangerous and cause serious injuries. Here are some recommendations by the CPSC on how to make your ATV experience safer:
· Do not drive ATVs on paved roads.
· Do not allow a child under 16 to drive or ride an adult ATV.
· Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride as a passenger.
· Always wear a helmet and other protective gear such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
· Take a hands-on safety training course.
Contact Brannon & Brannon at (850) 659-2252 immediately if you have been involved in a serious ATV accident. You can also contact us through our website: www.brannoncanhelp.com
As defined in s. 317.0003.