All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are a popular form of recreation among Southern
Californians and sports enthusiasts. Although popular, many of these vehicles
– and especially those with 3-wheel designs – pose overwhelming
risks of injuries and even death.
The dangers of ATVs have been widely publicized, including long-standing
media coverage regarding the dangers of 3-wheel ATVs. In fact, regulators
with the federal government once urged manufacturers nearly 20 years ago
to drop 3-wheel models in favor of the more stable 4-wheel versions widely
available today, and required them to adopt a system of safety warnings
and rider training in order to combat high rates of accidents.
Although 3-wheel ATVs may not be as common today, it is important for all
consumers who seek thrills or family fun to remember that these all-terrain
vehicles, including 4-wheel models, still pose significant safety risks.
This is due to their propensity to tip over when being operated, as well
as inherent dangers when driven on pavement. What’s more, many ATV
manufacturers have come under fire in recent years for serious defects
that led to fires, wrecks, and numerous injuries and deaths.
Statistics Show Clear Risks
Despite improvements made by manufacturers, rates of injuries involving
ATVs have barely improved since they became a target for regulators in
the late 1980s. Although fatal accidents have declined, especially as
3-wheel models lost favor, numerous victims are still killed each year
in ATV accidents. Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
make the risks clear:
- There are roughly 7.6 million ATVs in use across the U.S.
- ATV accidents account for roughly 800 fatalities per year.
- Injuries resulting from ATVs are estimated at approximately 140,000 annually.
According to consumer advocates, the high rates of injuries and deaths,
and the inability to stem the tide, is a marked failure by government
safety regulators. It is also a clear indication that in the absence of
accountability and laws, manufacturers will continue to make products
that pose risks to the public, especially if they continue making profits doing so.
While top ATV manufacturers claim their products are safe when used, reckless
riding only accounts for so many accidents, injuries, and deaths. Because
federal regulators have not tested ATV stability extensively since the
early 90s, one recent test commissioned by
The Oregonian noted researchers finding serious design issues that made popular ATV
models dangerously prone to rollovers. In fact, federal stats indicate
that over half of all fatal ATV crashes involve vehicles that overturned
or flipped forward or backward. Research of fatal crash statistics also
found that death was as likely to happen to a rider obeying basic safety
warnings as to a rider who did not.