ATV safety is hardly child’s play. In fact, when it comes to the various dangers associated with off-roading, children are the most vulnerable demographic. Studies have shown that the average age of individuals who are treated at emergency departments in Canada for ATV-related injuries is 15 years, which is less than the legal driving age of conventional motor vehicles.
As the general manager of the Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association (SATVA) safety campaign Know Your Limits, I always stress the importance of children following ATV safety practices.
Children have the highest amount of limitations when it comes to ATVs, because they do not possess the physical development to safely drive large ATVs or the cognitive ability to react to potentially dangerous situations – regardless of their size or maturity.
Before children begin ATVing, they should take a training course from one of the qualified instructors throughout Saskatchewan.
This will teach them how to be safe while enjoying some off-roading action. To put this into perspective, note that to legally drive a conventional motor vehicle – such as a car or truck – individuals are required to be 16 years of age, complete an instructional course, pass a practical exam that tests driver competency and follow the enforced rules of the road. It only makes sense then that ATVers would take similar steps to ensure they are competent on the trail.
Conventional motor vehicles also come with built-in protective measures such as seatbelts and air bags, which reduce the risk of injury and add to a driver’s sense of security.
The same safety measures aren’t found on an ATV, even though a full-size ATV weighs over 225 kg. (500 lbs.) and is capable of reaching highway speeds. Therefore, young adults who ATV without having taken a safety course or wearing the proper gear are putting themselves at risk.
You wouldn’t give your children the keys to your car if they have received no driver training. Allowing them to ATV under the same circumstances is just as reckless and can have lethal results.
Once children receive the proper instruction, it’s time to select the proper vehicle. It is recommended that children ride “age appropriate” ATVs: vehicles with an engine
size no greater than 70cc for children under 12 years of age; vehicles with an engine size no greater than 90cc for children under 16 years of age.
Beyond that, children must adhere to the strict policies every other ATVer follows: avoid taking passengers; wear protective gear (helmet, gloves, ankle boots, long pants, long-sleeved shirt); don’t speed or attempt tricky manoeuvers; ride in appropriate settings; don’t drink and ride; carry a communications device and designate an emergency contact.
By simply using your head you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Before ATVing, take time to honestly refl ect and determine whether or not you have taken every precaution necessary. While ATVing, ensure you driving in a safe manner. SATVA was formed in 2006 to unite ATV clubs and users into a single voice to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs in Saskatchewan.
SATVA general manager