ATVs are dangerous to children

According to data released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), estimated child deaths and serious injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) decreased slightly in 2014. Tragically, however, at least 61 children lost their lives and 24,800 were injured seriously enough to require treatment in a hospital emergency department.

“Thousands of families every year are impacted by ATV deaths and serious injuries. ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC’s jurisdiction,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for Consumer Federation of America.  “While data indicates that injuries from ATVs have decreased, we are concerned that we are not getting the whole picture because this report does not include statistics for other off highway vehicles that are reported in other studies.”

“As a pediatrician, my number one job is to keep children safe and healthy.  ATVs are not safe for children and should not be used by any child under the age of 16,” said Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  “Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines.  The American Academy of Pediatrics advises all parents to protect their children by preventing them from driving or riding in an ATV.”

The CPSC released its 2014 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries <> on January 29, 2016. 

Major findings include:

  • Estimates of serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment among people of all ages decreased from 99,600 in 2013 to 93,700 in 2014.
  • The 2014 emergency department-treated injury estimate for all ages reflects a decrease of 6 percent from the 2013 estimate, which is not statistically significant.
  • Between 2007 and 2014, there is an overall decrease of 38% of estimated numbers of emergency department-treated injuries for children younger than 16. This is statistically significant.
  • The estimated number of 4-wheel ATV-related fatalities for all ages decreased from 648 in 2012 to 638 in 2013.  The agency notes, however, that the 2012, 2013 and 2014 data are not considered complete and will likely increase.
  • In 2014, ATVs killed at least 61 children younger than 16, accounting for 16 percent of ATV fatalities; this is a (12%) decrease from 69 children in 2013. Fifty-four percent of children killed were younger than 12 years old in 2014.
  • Children under age 16 suffered an estimated 24,800 serious injuries in 2014, a decrease from 25,000 in 2013, which represented 26 percent of all injuries.
  • Children under age 12 suffered an estimated 11,400 serious injuries in 2014, a decrease from 13,100 in 2013.

The 2014 emergency department-treated injury estimate for children younger than 16 years of age represents a 1 percent decrease over the 2013 estimate, although this is not a statistically significant increase.

It is important to note that there is always a lag between the occurrence of ATV related deaths and the reports of those deaths making their way to the CPSC and therefore the 2012, 2013, and 2014 statistics should not be considered complete.

CFA tracks off-highway vehicle (OHV) deaths, including ROVs, and identified 530 in 2014. Of the 530 fatalities documented, it was possible to determine the vehicle type in 522, or 98% of those fatalities.  Of those 522 fatalities, 80 or 15%, took place on an ROV—a significant amount of the total.  CFA would like the CPSC begin to track all OHV deaths and injuries in one report. 

In 2002, consumer groups filed a petition with the CPSC calling for the CPSC to ban the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children.  While the agency under the leadership of Chairman Hal Stratton denied the petition, the CPSC began a rulemaking process to create new ATV safety standards.  Former CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum had directed staff to follow the mandate of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and promulgate new federal safety rules.  On August 12, 2011, Congress passed H.R. 2715 which amended the CPSIA and which directed the CPSC to complete the ATV rulemaking within a year of enactment.  The rule has not yet been completed.

In March 2014, CFA released a report, “ATVs on Roadways: A Safety Crisis <> ” documenting the growing trend of states permitting ATV use on roads, a practice that contradicts recommendations from the CPSC, public health, consumer and ATV industry groups.  CFA updated this report in 2015 and found that ROVs are permitted wherever ATVs are permitted. “CPSC’s data in the Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries is a critical source of information for those working to decrease ATV deaths and injuries,” stated Weintraub.  “We urge CPSC to include information about ATV deaths and injuries taking place on and off road.”

Both Consumer Federation of America and the AAP continue to call upon the agency to reject the manufacture of a transitional, “youth model” ATV for 14- to 16-year-olds that is capable of traveling at speeds up to 38 miles per hour.

The CPSC, industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under age 16 ride an ATV of any size.

CFA is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. .