All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and young kids just don’t mix. They can be extremely hard to control, on top of the fact they can easily tip. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all ATV drivers be at least 16 years of age. Although it may be legal in your state, use precaution.
If you decide to let your child drive an ATV, be sure they follow all of the safety precautions and have the proper riding gear. It is also advised that you have them take an ATV safety training course before getting behind the wheel.
Be sure your child is wearing protective gear at all times including long pants, sleeves, gloves, over-the-ankle-boots, a helmet, and eye protection. Only allow operation of the ATV during daylight hours – away from vehicles and hazards.
Especially for new riders, limit them to designated ATV trails and walk them through any areas that may be difficult to navigate prior to sending them off. They should also only ride while being supervised and in plain sight of the designated supervisor. If disaster strikes, they’ll know where to find them and can reach them quickly.
Child and teen drivers should never be allowed to drive a passenger. Be sure the ATV has four wheels – under no circumstances should teens or children operate three-wheeled ATVs. They have a much higher chance of tipping than a standard four-wheeled ATV.
Be prepared with an emergency safety kit at all times when riding ATVs. Before deciding if you will allow your child to ride – know the facts. In 2016, nearly 27,000 serious injuries happened to children under the age of 16 riding ATVs. Over half of those injuries were sustained by kids under the age of 12.
Also in 2016, 53 children under 16 years of age were killed. Forthy-three percent of the children were under 12. These statistics only account for deaths and serious injuries – the number of other, more minor injuries is much higher. Take into account the child’s maturity, as well as, ability to follow instructions before allowing them to drive an ATV by themselves.
Be sure they drive at a safe speed based on the area, and if possible, set the throttle control out so that they cannot go over the speed you designate. Most ATVs are equipped with one that can be found behind the throttle. Most generally it is a screw that you screw out further so the handle cannot be pressed all the way in.