Well, I have no
doubt that all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)—also known as quads, quad bikes, three
wheelers, or four wheelers—are very much fun. But they are also extremely
An ATV is a vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires and is designed to
handle a wider variety of terrain than most other vehicles. ATVs have a seat
that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering
control. Seeing young children riding on ATVs has been one of my pet peeves for a long time. Even when I was just getting started in pediatrics, I had several patients critically injured while driving or just riding on an ATV.
I have never recommended
keeping our kids in protective bubbles, but I do think that some
activities—even if they are fun—are just not safe and should not be allowed by
parents until their kids are old enough to do them
According to the American Academy of
Children who are too young to have a driver’s license
should not be allowed to operate all-terrain vehicles. Children are involved in about 30 percent of all
ATV-related deaths and injuries that require treatment in the emergency
ATVs are particularly dangerous for children younger
than age 16 years
because the nervous systems and decision-making faculties of these kids
are not yet fully developed.
That said, if a parent is still
determined to put their child astride an ATV, please remember these guidelines.
All ATV riders should take a hands-on, safety and
All riders should wear a helmet, eye protection, sturdy
shoes (no flip-flops), and protective, reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle
use, not bicycle use, and they should include either safety visors
or face shields that protect the eyes. Wearing a helmet may prevent or
reduce the severity of head and eye injuries.
ATVs lack the common safety equipment found on all cars
and trucks designed for street use.
ATV tires are not designed to grip on pavement, so operators should never
ride on paved roads.
Parents should never permit their children to ride ATVs
or other off-road vehicles after dark or on the street.
Flags, reflectors, and lights should be used to make
these vehicles more conspicuous and visible to drivers of automobiles.
Drivers of recreational vehicles should never drive
while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even some prescription
medicines. Parents should set an example
for their children in this regard.