Canadian Pediatric Society calls for ban on under-16 ATV riders

Publish Date: 
Aug 31, 2012


OTTAWA, Ont. – The Canadian Pediatric Society is urging a nationwide ban on children younger than 16 riding ATVs in the interest of preventing injuries to youngsters.

Public education campaigns and other efforts have failed to stem the tide of ATV injuries and deaths, improper riding behavior and disregard for safety measures such as wearing protective gear.

“Despite industry warnings and public education that emphasize the importance of safety behaviors and the risks of significant injury to children and youth, ATV-related injuries and fatalities continue to occur. Until measures are taken that clearly effect substantial reductions in these injuries, restricting ridership by young operators, especially those younger than 16 years of age, is critical to reducing the burden of ATV-related trauma in children and youth,” says a summary of the group’s position paper, which notes it is aimed only at solo-rider models.

The paper lays out accident statistics going back several years, along with information from surveys about ATV ownership and riding behavior. While the paper notes that youngsters often just don’t have good judgment, it also posits that youth model ATVs are not necessarily safer than adult models.

“Inexperience, inadequate physical size and strength, immature motor and cognitive development, and tending to engage in risk-taking behaviors all compound injury risks for children and youth operating ATVs. While industry guidelines suggest that children under 16 years of age should only operate youth-sized models, these vehicles are still heavy and can travel at significant speeds. Also, a higher center of gravity contributes to instability, making ATVs prone to flips or rollovers. Currently, there is little evidence to suggest that smaller youth models are safer when used by children.”

The group’s list of recommendations includes a ban on riders younger than 16; and for all riders, mandatory protective gear, mandatory safety training and testing.

The paper also calls on OEMs to design safer ATVs for all ages, and on the Canadian government to monitor ATV safety among youth.

“ATV manufacturers [should] be governed by mandatory and stringent product safety regulations and monitored by the federal government,” the paper states. “More specifically, while the Canadian Pediatric Society does not support the use of youth-model ATVs by anyone under the age of 16, the fact that these vehicles are being marketed for use by children must make them subject to federal product safety regulations and monitoring, as for other children’s products.”

Posted by Holly Wagner