All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not used only for recreation any more. These vehicles have become an important tool in many work environments. Since they are designed to handle rough terrain, ATVs are valuable for persons working in the following professions:
- Mineral and oil exploration
- Pipeline maintenance
- Ranching and farming
- Law enforcement
- Resource management
- Adventure tourism
Because ATVs are popular for work and recreation, injuries and fatalities are a constant concern that should not be ignored. From 1992 to 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, there were 297 work-related ATV deaths in the United States, and 75 percent of them were males age 35 and older. Sixty percent of the fatal accidents occurred on farms, and 20 percent on highways.
“Rollovers are the most common cause of crashes,” said LWCC Director of Safety and Loss Prevention Mike Page. “And those in the animal production industry have the highest risk of injury.”
ATVs are among the deadliest products under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC recently reported that between 2001 and 2010 there was an average of 659 fatal accidents (both recreational and work-related) per year involving ATVs nationwide. In that same time frame, ATV accidents were the cause of more than 130,000 visits per year to hospital emergency rooms.
In Louisiana, there have been 246 fatalities (both recreational and work-related) from 1982 to 2010 involving ATVs.
Incidents are generally the result of the following:
- Operating at excessive speeds
- Operating the vehicle on public roads
- Carrying passengers
- Riding on slopes and levees
- Carrying unbalanced loads or exceeding the recommended load limit of the vehicle
- Operator not wearing a helmet
- Lack of proper training
To reduce the possibility of being involved in an ATV incident, you should follow at least the following accepted practices:
- Obtain proper training for the ATV you will operate.
- Read and understand the operator's manual before you ride.
- Fully understand the terrain on which you will be operating the vehicle, taking notice of any site-specific hazards, such as levees, embankments, excavations, or soft soil conditions that could result in the vehicle overturning.
- Always wear a helmet, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots.
- If you must haul a load, ensure it is balanced and does not exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit for the vehicle.
- Conduct a pre-ride inspection in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- When riding watch for hazards such as rocks, stumps, fences, guy wires, embankments, levees, and low-hanging branches.
- Do not ride at excessive speeds. Adjust your speed for the terrain on which you are traveling.
- Do not carry passengers if the ATV is not designed to carry multiple persons.
- Keep your hands and feet on the controls to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Do not talk on your cell phone when riding an ATV.
- Do not operate an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not drive on paved roads. ATV’s are designed for off-road and are difficult to control on paved roads.