Four wheelers, which are often called ATVs, our motor vehicle that allow people to go off-road and enjoy the backcountry. Unfortunately accidents are just part of the natural environment when people choose to use these machines. Part of the reason for this may be the way the vehicles are designed. Users are able to go at high speeds across rough terrain and have no bodily protection from the vehicle while they are doing it.
Statistics on Four Wheeler Accidents
1. The number of annual ATV-related injuries increased from 10,000 in 1982 to 150,000 in 2007.
2. The number of fatalities per year has also increased—from 29 in 1982 to 766 in 2007.
3. There have been 10,281 deaths reported from four wheeler accidents from 1982 to 2009.
4. More than 25% of the fatalities that have occurred on four wheelers happened to children who were younger than 16 years of age.
5. ATV injuries are most common in white men aged 18 to 30 years.
6. 80% of four wheeler injuries are to the driver of the vehicle, rather than to a passenger that is riding along.
7. Although only 15% of ATV riders are children, they account for 27% of ATV injuries.
8. There are 19 states in the US that do not require helmet use for four wheelers and 22 states don’t have any minimum age laws for drivers.
9. One study found that the average age of an ATV driver is 12.8 years of age.
10. In 2011, there were over 107,500 emergency room visits by people who were involved with a four wheeler accident.
11. Since 2007, however, the accident rates and ER trips have been steadily declining.
12. 29,000 of the ER trips in 2011 were for children who were under the age of 16, including 57 reported deaths from four wheeler accidents.
13. A majority of the four wheeler accidents that happen today occur on roadways, which is a place where ATVs have not been designed to go.
14. The percentage of states in the US which allow ATVs on certain roads under certain conditions: 69%.
15. The risk estimate for an injury to occur on an ATV reached a peak high of 153.9 per 10,000 trips in 2007.
16. Nearly 75% of all ATV crashes result in debilitating brain and spinal cord injuries
17. The total number of ATV injuries reported each year has nearly tripled since 1992.
18. Riding ATVs is in the same category as football and diving as being among the leading causes of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in kids under the age of 17.
19. Of the 2,865 ATV-related fatalities of children younger than 16 years of age, 43% were younger than 12 years of age.
20. No linear trend was detected in the number of ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries from 2001 to 2011.
21. Of the 107,500 estimated ATV-related, emergency department-treated injuries for all ages in 2011, 87% of them are categorized as treated and released.
22. 29% of four wheeler injuries occur to a person’s harm. The head and neck account for another 28% of a person’s injuries.
Direct Connection and Correlation Between Accident Rates
It is believed that there is a direct correlation between the improvement of speeds with four wheelers and the overall accident rates that are being seen. The higher rates of speed create the need to have faster reaction times during emergency situations. Just like a driver who is tailgating a vehicle at 65 mph won’t be able to stop in time if the car slams on its brakes in front of them, an ATV driver who is going at high speeds won’t be able to properly correct the vehicle’s reaction when it hits a rough patch of ground and goes off balance.
The data on how the ATVs are created today show just how dangerous these machines can really be. The first four wheelers only had a 7 hp engine and they weighed about 200 pounds at most. Today’s you can reach tops for over 100 mph and have a 600 mL engine with 50 hp. The average ATV today weighs more than 100 pounds. The original three wheeler ATVs were actually banned because of their dramatic injury rates. The fourth wheel was supposed to stabilize the machine. As you will see in the accident statistics below, however, this hasn’t always been the case.
Proper Use of Four Wheelers
Four wheelers are a lot of fun to use, but they can be a dangerous machine when they are not used properly. That’s why it is important to where all appropriate safety gear and use the vehicle as it is intended to be used.
In order to get four wheeler accidents to continue decreasing in number, we all need to stop looking at these machines as toys and treat them as the vehicles they are. If children are unable to obtain a driver’s license until the age of 18 in some jurisdictions, then why are kids at the age of 12 allowed to drive an ATV on the road legally? Children just don’t have the mental capacity to always make the logical, best choice when facing a potential emergency situation. This is why they aren’t drivers and maybe why they shouldn’t be four wheeler drivers as well.
Although some of the statistics seem alarming, the good news is that most people are able to walk away from an accident without any permanent damage happening. Only one out of 10 people will have an accident that requires prolonged treatment at a hospital. There’s realistically only a one in 1000 chance that any given ride on an ATV is going to result in an accident. Most trips are going to be just fine. It’s that hundred thousand chance that we need to plan for with the use of proper safety gear and training on how to use these vehicles properly.
By setting minimum age standards for drivers and requiring training and usage courses like we do with cars and trucks, the statistics on four wheeler accidents could drop even more dramatically than it has been doing in the last five years.