Memorial Day weekend should be a time for barbecues, family and fun. Yet, for many consumers who participate in recreational ATV riding over the holiday weekend, it can be tragic instead of fun.
Reports analyzed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show that during the four days of the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, there were at least 14 deaths and an estimated 2,750 emergency room treated injuries associated with ATV usage. That works out to an average of four deaths and 700 injuries each day. Two of the 14 fatalities during that weekend involved children under age 16.
"As the temperatures rise around Memorial Day, there is also a disturbing rise in ATV-related deaths and injuries," said CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum. "If you plan to ride an ATV this weekend, ride safe, ride smart, and stay alive."
ATVs continue to be the fourth most deadly product CPSC oversees, with more than 700 ATV-related deaths per year.
CPSC's most recent annual report of ATV-related deaths and injuries indicates a decrease in the estimated number of ATV-related injuries in 2011. However, the number of estimated injuries per year remains at more than 107,000, with an increase in estimated injuries to children younger than 16 years of age to 29,000. More than half of these injuries were suffered by children younger than 12. The report published in February 2013 contains the most recent data available through 2011.
In addition to a spike in reported deaths and estimated injuries associated with the Memorial Day holiday, CPSC staff's analysis of reported ATV-related fatalities from 2005 through 2007 indicates a springtime surge, as well. During those years, on average, reported fatalities jumped 55 percent from March to April. In these same years, reported deaths peaked in July with an average of 18 children and 85 adults killed in ATV-related incidents.
CPSC warns all ATV riders, young and old, to make this holiday weekend and the rest of the riding season safer by following these basic rules of the trail:
*Do not allow children younger than 16 to drive or ride on adult ATVs. Always choose an age-appropriate ATV for your child.
*Never allow a child younger than 6 on an ATV - either as a driver or passenger.
*Most ATVs are designed for only one person. Do not ride on a single-rider ATV as a passenger or carry a passenger if you are the driver.
*Always wear a helmet and protective gear when riding ATVs.
*Do not drive ATVs on paved roads.
*Take a hands-on safety training course. This is especially important for young or first-time riders.
To learn more and to read the full report, visit www.ATVSafety.gov.
CPSC also urges drivers and passengers of recreational off-highway vehicles to keep safety in mind during this riding season. Also known as side-by-sides, ROVs have a steering wheel, bench or bucket seats, seatbelts, foot controls and a rollover protective structure.
ROVs have been associated with more than 170 deaths over the past 10 years. Rollovers have caused severe injuries and death, even on flat, open terrain.
CPSC encourages ROV drivers and passengers to follow these guidelines:
*Always fasten seat belts before moving the vehicle.
*Never transport passengers who cannot place both feet on the floorboard with their backs against the seat.
*Never carry more passengers than there are seat belts and never carry passengers in cargo beds.
*Never drive an ROV unless you have a valid driver's license.
*Wear a helmet and other protective gear; ensure that your passengers wear theirs.
*Do not drive ROVs on paved roads; ROVs are designed to be operated off-road.
*Drive only in designated areas, at a safe speed, and use care when turning and crossing slopes.
*Keep all parts of your body inside the ROV.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov), an independent federal regulatory agency, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD. Toll-free hotline: (800) 638-2772.