With Honda, Suzuki, Bombardier, Arctic Cat, Yamaha and other companies producing sleek, high-performance machines, it isn't surprising that ATVs have become a popular vehicle for old and young, alike. While ATV safety is a national issue, recent high-profile ATV-related injuries and deaths, especially among children, have spurred new discussion about ATV safety and use of recreational vehicles in Florida.
Earlier this year, a Clay County man, a Pembroke Pines boy and an Interlachen girl were killed in three separate ATV-related accidents. Over the Labor Day weekend, four Pasco County teens, ages 16 and under, were injured after the Honda Sports Trac ATV they were riding was hit by a pick-up truck.
ATV Fatalities: By the Numbers
National statistics for ATV-related causalities are shocking. From 1982 to 2008, there have been almost 10,000 deaths related to ATVs. Specifically for Florida, the trend is a bit more haunting. Of the 419 deaths that occurred between 1982 and 2008, close to one-fourth of the fatalities were children under 16. From 2006 to 2008, Florida ranked third in the nation, ahead of California and other more populated states, for ATV-related deaths.
Florida ATV Laws and Safety Training
In the Sunshine State, ATV laws cover any motorized vehicle, 50 inches or less in width and 900 pounds or less in weight, designed to travel on three or more low-pressure tires. Florida stands with a majority of states that requires helmet use by any rider and/or passenger under the age of 16. Florida's law also mandates the use of eye protection.
To minimize injury and liability risks, ATV riders and passengers should take part in safety training classes. Riders and passengers should also be aware of the existing ATV-related use laws. Helmets and other safety gear should be worn at all times. People shouldn't operate all-terrain vehicles if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Parents should monitor the use of ATVs by their children and not allow them to drive or ride ATVs that aren't specifically designed for youth. Also, if an ATV is designed to only carry one or two people, riders should be careful not to carry too many people on their vehicles.
Recent tragedies in Florida prove that ATVs present risks to consumers. While these sporty vehicles may remain extremely popular, consumers are urged to recognize that safe operation of ATVs is more than the law, it is a matter of life or death. If you or a loved one is injured in a recreational vehicle accident in Florida, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn whether you can seek compensation for your injuries.