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Stricter State ATV Laws Can Prevent Child Injuries

ATVs are the most popular off-road vehicles. However, these vehicles are far too heavy and bulky for children to handle. ATV vehicle use is linked to more than 3,000 fatalities in the United States over a span of three decades. More than 50% of these fatalities involved children.

The state of Georgia has some of the highest rates of ATV accidents involving children in the country. Lawmakers must invest time and resources in enacting legislation that sets restrictions on children’s use of all-terrain vehicles and other off-road vehicles.

Children below the age of 16 should not be allowed to operate ATVs.  Unfortunately, far too many parents believe that it is safe to let their children operate such a heavy vehicle not realizing that it poses a tremendous risk of severe injuries in an accident.

Laws that restrict the use of off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles by children can significantly help reduce the risk of possibly fatal injuries. A new study found that such laws can contribute to a significant drop in the number of emergency room visits involving children injured in off-road vehicle accidents.

In the state of Massachusetts, authorities found that the number of off-road vehicle-related accidents involving children that sustained severe and possibly life-threatening injuries significantly dropped after that state enacted laws restricting the use of such vehicles by children. In 2010, the state enacted Sean’s Law in memory of an eight-year-old child who was killed in an off-road vehicle accident just a few years earlier.

Under Sean’s law, children under 13 were prohibited from riding an off-road vehicle, either on public or private property. Children were only allowed to operate these vehicles under the supervision of an adult. The law also required children between the ages of 14 and 17 to take an off-road vehicle training program before riding these vehicles, and be supervised by an adult at all times while on such vehicles. The law also made it mandatory to wear helmets while riding such vehicles, and set strict limitations on the size of the vehicle’s engine. All vehicles were required to be registered with the state,.  The law also imposed a ban on operating off-road vehicles under the influence of alcohol.

All of these clauses significantly helped reduce the number of children seriously injured in ATV accidents. When researchers compared statistics from the nine-year period before the law was passed with data from three years after the law was passed, they found a significant drop in the number of child emergency room visits linked to such accidents. Those rates dropped by as much as one-third for children below the age of nine. For children between the ages of 10 and 13, emergency room visits dropped by 50%. And for children between the ages of 14 and 17, the number of ER visits dropped by as much as 40% after Sean’s Law was passed.

The Atlanta accident attorneys at the Katz Law firm has handled numerous cases involving ATV accidents and encourage all riders to engage in safe practices.