3 ATV accidents involving young drivers call safety into question

Wednesday July 2, 2014

Since the mid-eighties, all-terrain vehicles have become a popular mode of transportation and source of entertainment for residents of Connecticut and other states.

The problem is that these machines are extremely powerful and capable of causing serious damage, especially when young and inexperienced drivers are behind the handlebars.

Three recent ATV accidents involving young Connecticut residents show just how dangerous ATVs can be. In an accident June 17, a 19-year-old Ellington resident was killed after his ATV flipped over and pinned him underneath.

The very next day, two New Fairfield teens were seriously injured when they crashed an ATV on a state road in Brewster.

The day after that, an 11-year-old Roxbury boy was reported missing and then found dead after he drove his ATV off the road near his home and went down an embankment.

It is illegal to operate ATVs on public roads and parks in the state, so many people ride on private property, which makes it harder to regulate the activity.

Several years ago, a state representative led an effort to tighten the laws regarding ATV use among drivers under 18, but he learned that it is “virtually impossible” to enforce regulations when people are on private property.

That’s why some safety advocates are turning to ATV manufacturers and parents in effort to keep young people safe.

The Consumer Federation of America has called for a ban on “youth model” ATVs and the American Association of Pediatrics is urging parents to keep children under the age of 16 off of ATVs.

In some cases, ATV manufacturers are labeling ATVs as appropriate for children as young as 6.

Although industry groups say that safety advocates are overreacting by warning that ATVs are not suitable for children, they should take the concerns seriously as they could face liability in products liability lawsuits when young riders are injured or killed because of defective or dangerous ATVs.

Source: Connecticut Post, “No easy solutions to stop rising number of ATV accidents,” John Pirro, June 28, 2014

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