Children and ATVs: Do's and Don't
Brad Winfrey, Manager of the Center for Childhood Safety and Injury Prevention
ATVs might seem like an acceptable choice for childhood fun, but young minds and bodies are not ready for the demands of safe riding. ATVs are heavy, complex machines that require advanced judgment skills to use safely, like assessing risk, controlling impulses, and handling problems.
Children and teens do not have fully-developed brains, so they cannot accurately determine risk or predict consequences like adults can. According to the United States Consumer Commission (2014), more than 90 percent of ATV related injuries involving children can be attributed to a lack of developmental skills needed to maneuver the faster, more powerful adult ATV’s. In Missouri alone, there were 49 reported ATV associated deaths from 2014-2016.
All riders should follow these safety rules: (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children younger than 16 years do not use ATVs at all.)
- Always wear a helmet and dress appropriatey.
- Anyone operating an ATV should take an operators safety course.
- Only allow children to operate age appropriate youth model ATV’s. Larger ATV’s can weigh as much as 600 pounds.
- Children should be supervised at all times and should never have access to the keys when parents are not around.
- Do not allow passengers on ATV’s.
- Never ride an ATV on paved public roads or highways.
Out of the approximately 100,000 ATV injuries each year, one quarter involve children under the age of 16. Please ride smart and be safe.
Learn more about the Center for Childhood Safety at Children's Mercy.