ATV, or All Terrain Vehicles, have become very popular in rural areas of Central New York. Older models sometimes had three wheels, but those were excessively dangerous because of their tendency to tip over, and are no longer manufactured. Today, new ATV's feature four wheels. Most ATVs are used for "off-roading" or riding through wooded areas and open fields.
ATVs are not toys; they can reach 55 MPH and can weigh as much as a quarter ton. There are about 300 fatalities on ATV's every year in the United States. The majority of these deaths are from head and spinal cord injuries. Perhaps the high accident rate is due to the fact that so many young men, even children, use them for recreation. But it also seems that there are more and more ATV accidents because ATV's are being made heavier and faster. Manufacturers seem to be competing to push the limits in weight, speed and power. The young people driving these machines are not often experienced motor vehicle operators. Drivers under the age of 15 are twice as likely to get into accidents on their ATV's.
Many ATV accidents result in the vehicle overturning or striking some fixed object such as a tree. ATV accidents can cause serious injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and even death. Helmets save lives. The best way to protect against fatal ATV accidents is a helmet.
When an ATV accident happens, it is usually the fault of an ATV operator, but sometimes the landowner, the ATV manufacturer or another vehicle driver is to blame.
There are New York State regulations regarding the operation of ATV’s. Here are the main rules:
- No passengers allowed on ATV’s unless it is designed to carry more than one person. (most ATV’s are designed for only single-rider use – drivers need to shift their weight freely to handle the terrain, curves, etc., and it is difficult to do so with an additional person onboard.)
- Helmets are mandatory.
- ATV’s must be registered with the DMV
- ATV use on highways is prohibited, except if you are crossing the highway. (Understand that ATV’s are not made for use on pavement, and are difficult to control there. Collisions with other motor vehicles, who find it difficult to see low-lying ATV’s, is an additional risk).
- No one under 10 years old may ride or operate an ATV.
- Children between 10 and 15 years old may ride an ATV only on their parents’ land and supervised by a parent, or on their parents’ land without supervision if they possess a safety training certificate.
- Headlight use is required starting ½ hour after sunset and before sunrise
ATV’s can be used safely, but often they are not. They have taken a grim toll in New York State alone. Consider these statistics: Between 2007 and 2010, there have been 314 deaths from ATV use.
And this does not include the many serious injuries suffered on ATV’s. Many of those injuries include traumatic brain injuries. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of TBI’s. Make sure your helmet fits right and is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
Additional gear that might protect ATV drivers are: over-the ankle boots, gloves, goggles, long-sleeved shirt and long pants (to protect from lacerations). But nothing is as important as the helmet!
The Syracuse ATV injury lawyers of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured in ATV accidents and for other injuries to cover their medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one has been a victim of an ATV accident, CONTACT US for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.