ATVs: Work Smart. Ride Safe. That’s the theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week promoted across the U. S. this fall. The advice is just as valid on this side of the border. Here’s the focus for the American campaign: Do not permit children to drive or ride adult ATVs. Ever.
Kids can’t physically handle the big machines. No matter how intelligent and mature you truly believe your child to be, don’t let them do it. If your child is under 14 years of age — some safety and medical professionals advise 16 — simply forbid them to ride on a full-size sport or utility ATV. And stick by your decision.
Here’s why. Children are involved in about one-third of all ATV-related deaths and hospital emergency room injuries. Most of these deaths and injuries occur when a child is driving or riding on an adult ATV.
An ATV can be a useful work vehicle and sometimes, you may need your child to help with that work. But don’t put him at risk of injury or death. Children under 16 on adult ATVs are twice as likely to be injured as those riding youth ATVs.
With adult supervision, you might decide to allow a child between 12 and 16 to operate smaller ATVs with a motor no larger than 90 cc. If you do, be sure to explain the task and draw attention to each hazard and possible problem. Discuss solutions for each hazard and problem. Always wear a helmet.
Be sure your child completes the task four or five times under your direct and constant supervision. Even then, make sure you get back to check every 15 minutes or so once your child is set to go on an age-appropriate ATV.
And think about this: ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle but despite the name and the rugged looks, all-terrain vehicles really aren’t made for all terrain. They come with more than two dozen hazard warnings that advise riders to stay away from steep slopes, rough terrain, paved roads and slippery or loose soil. Why? Because ATVs are “rider active.” That means it’s up to the riders to use balance and skill to keep the machines upright. That’s sometimes tough for an adult to do on the full-size ATVs – and impossible for a child.
That long, inviting seat on the full-size ATVs is not intended for an extra rider. That long seat allows the adult operator to move freely to control the vehicle with a combination of skill, good judgment, attention, and physical strength. Put another person on that seat and the driver is more likely to lose control. Think about it.
While you’re at it, why not review the ATV safety rules on your farm. To get you started, check out the list of ATV safety links at http://www.casa-acsa.ca/english/links_atv.html. The links include Canadian and U. S. sources of tips on safe ATV usage and injury prevention as well as an ATV provincial legislation chart highlighting each province’s minimum operating age, uses and supervision regulations.
PLAN.FARM.SAFETY.Managetherisks. Controlthehazards.FromtheCanadian AgriculturalSafetyAssociation www.planfarmsafety.ca