ATVs Can Be Fun — With Safety Training and Experience
Most people would never consider getting into an airplane cockpit and taking off without first getting a substantial amount of pilot training. Since all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) look like cars — or even tricycles — however, anyone with a set of keys assumes instant expert status.
As soon as the weather warms in the spring, ATVs become a popular off-road activity. While each Charlotte car accident lawyer at our firm encourages everyone to get out and enjoy fresh air and sunshine, we recommend they first get training that can help them remain safe on- and off-road.
The Causes of ATV Accidents
The overall design of ATVs creates a high center of gravity, which is why rollovers are the most common type of accident for riders. Still, the vehicles do not tip over without reason. The causes of ATV accidents are not always intuitive, which is why North Carolina requires riders to obtain safety certificates.
By taking the safety training needed to obtain this certificate, riders can learn the underlying reasons for accidents, such as the following:
- Driving on paved surfaces with tires designed for off-road use only
- Lack of adult supervision for younger riders
- Carrying passengers on ATVs designed for a single occupant
- Performing dangerous stunts
- Riding in areas with unfamiliar terrain
State Laws Do Not Always Address All ATV Safety Issues
According to the Consumer Federation of America, the majority of ATV deaths occur on paved roads. Yet the majority of U.S. states permit on-road riding, and even more, have approved this use in recent years. In fact, the low-pressure tires on these vehicles are not safe on paved roadways, preventing riders from maintaining proper control.
The good news is that North Carolina ATV operation laws strictly prohibit on-road use of ATVs, except as-needed to crossroads. However, the law permits children as young as 8 years old to operate certain ATVs under supervision while removing the supervision requirements for riders at age 16. Considering that in the 10-year period between 2001 and 2011, 33 percent of ATV-related accident victims who visited the emergency room were younger than 16 years old, perhaps allowing children to ride does not make sense when they are too young to hold driver’s licenses.
Still, when someone suffers serious injuries in an ATV accident, the extensive North Carolina laws can serve to complicate the legal issues that need to be addressed to file a claim or lawsuit against liable parties. It is important to seek guidance from a motor vehicle accident attorney with knowledge of all local and state ATV laws.