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NC Department of Health and Human Services
N.C. DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section
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Injury and Violence Prevention Branch

All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Injury

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign ATV Fact Sheet, as bigger and faster ATVs have been introduced over the past decade, ATV related deaths and injuries have increased substantially in every age group. From 1997 to 2001, injury rates increased 23 percent for children ages 6 to 12 and 233 percent for children younger than 6. The state of North Carolina has passed legislation related to ATVs that you can read to further understand proper use of these vehicles.

ATVs are motorized vehicles with large, low-pressure tires. ATVs are designed to carry one rider on uneven surfaces. ATVs can be used for work or fun. ATVs weigh up to 600 pounds and can reach speeds of 75 miles per hour. Because of their size and how fast they can go, it is important to follow these safety tips from the Children’s Safety Network, especially for youth operating ATVs.

What factors are key to safe ATV use?

  • Personal protective helmet and clothing
  • ATV appropriate to the size of operator
  • Single operator and no passengers
  • Supervision based on developmental skill
  • Parental knowledge and approval
  • Ability/skills to operate ATV

What developmental factors must youth possess to operate an ATV?

  • The physical size, strength, coordination, and physical motor skills to operate an ATV
  • The cognitive capacity to anticipate, recognize and react to potential hazards
  • Good judgment to act responsibly, minimize risks, and react to potential hazards

What strategies help promote safe ATV operation?

  • Follow manufacturers’ recommendations matching operator age with ATV size
  • Operate the ATV only on trails and at an appropriate speed
  • Supervision should be based upon developmental and skill level
  • Personal equipment that includes: DOT-approved helmet with face protection, long sleeve shirt, long pants, non-skid boots, gloves
  • Be aware of other ATVs and motor vehicle traffic while crossing roadways