ATV Safety Tips for Kids
Using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be an enjoyable way to spend time and can be helpful with working around the property or going through the woods when hunting. Despite there being an abundance of ATV safety information available, as well as ATV safety classes offered, emergency and trauma departments have seen ATV related injuries rise. In fact, in the past two years at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport trauma department, for children under 16, admissions have doubled and there has been an increase in fatalities due to ATV related injuries. The most common injuries associated with ATV crashes are to the head, face and spine – skull fractures, facial fractures, brain and spinal cord injuries – which can lead to short-term disability, lifetime disability or death.
Children are at Increased Risk of Injury and Death from ATV
An ATV is not a toy. It is a powerful, motorized vehicle that can weigh up to 600 pounds, reach speeds of up to 60 mph and can be difficult for a child to operate. Collisions and rollovers can happen quickly, even with the best drivers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children who are not old enough to have a driver’s license should not be permitted to operate or ride off road vehicles. If you do allow a child under 16 to drive or ride, they should always be supervised by an adult and should only use an ATV that is properly sized for them. Adults can also supervise safe driving practices and the wearing of helmets and protective gear. ATVs intended for use by adults (16 and above) have greater speed and performance capabilities and are larger and heavier than youth models. Youth models are available for children as young as 6. They have smaller engines and lower speeds.
There are 4 Youth ATV Categories:
- Y6+, for age 6 and up, speeds of 10 mph or less recommended; 15 mph maximum speed
- Y10+, for 10 and up, speeds 15 mph or less recommended; 30 mph maximum speed
- Y12+, for 12 and up, speeds of 15 mph or less recommended; 30 mph maximum speed
- T, for 14 and up, speeds of 20 and 30 mph recommended; 38 mph maximum speed
Louisiana ATV Laws and Youth
Louisiana law states that you must be 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license to legally drive an ATV. The revised statute allows an unlicensed minor under 17 to drive if they are participating in a driver’s education course.
Safety Tips for All ATV Riders
- Always wear a compliant Department of Transportation helmet, goggles, long sleeve shirt, gloves, long pants and over the ankle boots.
- One person at a time on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people
- Ride the correct size machine for your age and adults must supervise riders younger than 16
- Never ride on paved roads (except to cross when done safely and permitted by law). ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
- Tell someone where you’re going
- Never use drugs or alcohol when riding
- Take an ATV safety course – available online or in person for all ages
- Always obey the rules and ride only on designated trails at a safe speed
To find out more about ATV safety classes, call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887 or visit ATVsafety.org.