Despite widespread awareness of the extreme hazards to by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), ATV accidents continue to claim the lives and futures of Georgians and Tennesseans.
Under both Tennessee and Georgia law, ATVs are not authorized for use on paved road, but children continue to bring ATVs on to our roads and highways. Georgia and Tennessee laws also prohibit the carrying of passengers on most ATVs, require children below the age of 16 to take approved ATV training courses, and require kids younger than 16 to wear helmets, eye protection, and over-the-ankle boots when operating ATVs. However, these requirements apply only when ATVs are operated on public lands, leaving kids essentially without protection when riding ATVs on private property.
Within the past year and a half, several ATV accidents have starkly confirmed that Georgia and Tennessee’s motor vehicle safety laws don’t go far enough, and that even where these laws are potentially helpful, they are not inspiring compliance. It turns out that imperfect laws are not the only weak link in protecting kids from ATV tragedies. Ineffective manufacturer warnings now appear to be part of the problem. In a study published last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy found that even where ATVs come equipped with labels urging safety precautions and warning against high-risk behaviors and any use of ATVs by children younger than 16, high-risk and underage uses continue unabated.
The Academy documented not only that almost 40 percent of ATV-related injuries are suffered by users younger than 16, but also that no respondents, in their study, pursued recommended ATV training, and only 36.7 percent of respondents were helmeted at the time of their crashes. The Academy also found that even after being injured, and despite manufacturer labels warning against underage and risky uses, children who survived ATV injuries went on to ride again, and resumed riding without safety gear, riding on paved roads, performing dangerous maneuvers, and carrying passengers.