Off-road vehicles, like all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) and snowmobiles are more popular than ever in Alberta. With this comes an increase in serious injury and death. Between 2010 and 2014, 85 Albertans died while riding ATVs. Of those 85, 17 were 16 years and younger. Because more males ride ATVs, more males are injured or killed than females. Head injuries are a major cause of ATV related death, leading to more than 40% of deaths in Alberta.
Children under 16 shouldn't operate any size of ATV. ATVs aren't toys—they are powerful, heavy machines. ATVs can go up to 105 km/h and can weigh up to 272 kg (600 lbs.).
It’s always important for parents to supervise their children. However, ATVs can be so dangerous that even supervising children under 16 isn’t enough. They don’t have the strength, skill, or ability to judge fast enough if something's dangerous.
There's no proof that using a smaller ATV is safer. Children younger than 16 still have a higher chance of getting hurt—even dying—when using an ATV. They are 2 to 5 times more likely than adults to be injured, even when riding “youth-sized” ATVs.
Three-wheeled ATVs aren't stable and should never be used. Medical experts agree that anyone under 16 shouldn't ride ATVs
anytime, anywhere, any size.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that children under 16 should never ride ATVs, even as a passenger. The biggest problem with passengers is that they're usually on ATVs that aren't designed and built to carry them. When a passenger rides on an ATV that's made for 1 person, it becomes more unstable and unpredictable. If an ATV is designed for passengers, those passengers should be 16 or older.
There's been pressure to design safer and more stable ATVs. While progress has been made, ATVs are still risky, especially at high speeds, at night, on steep hills, in areas you don’t know well, and when the driver is stunting or doing tricks. There's a higher chance of a serious ATV injury or even death if you drink alcohol, take other substances, or are distracted (e.g., talking or texting on a cell phone) while driving an ATV.
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Current as of: February 7, 2018
Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services
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