Texas Living

ATVs and Kids: Safety Tips

By Lisa Martin 6.12.13

Thirteen-year-old Emma Kringle was driving a three-wheeled ATV just outside Lincoln, N.E., when her ponytail caught in the vehicle’s engine, causing her to wreck. Despite the fact she was wearing a helmet, the teenager died from her injuries.

According to safety experts, tragedies like this are on the upswing in Texas and around the country. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 30,000 children under the age of 16 are hurt in ATV accidents each year.

Kids often don’t realize the risks, says Jason Dush, a firefighter and paramedic with the Arlington Fire Department: “Children also underestimate the size (400 to 1200 pounds) and speed (up to 70 mph) of an ATV.”

What is an ATV?

So what precisely is an All-Terrain Vehicle? The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles defines ATVs as the following classifications:

  • The vehicle has a saddle seat and three or more wheels.
  • It’s designed for off-highway use.
  • It’s not intended for farm or lawn care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also discourages any child under the age of 16 from getting behind the wheel of other types of vehicles as well, including tractors, lawn mowers, personal watercrafts, golf carts, and snowmobiles.

ATV Safety First!

The ATV Safety Institute offers the following guidelines anyone intending to drive an ATV, regardless of age:

  • Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  • Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law; ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.

For more info, visit atvsafety.org or call 800-887-2887.