AS THE WEATHER warms up, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes come out from hibernating in the garage. While this is an exciting time for many outdoor adventurers and thrill seekers, it can put a major strain on safety.
Intuition might tell you that two wheels are more dangerous than four, but researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that crashes and wrecks involving four-wheeled off-road vehicles were significantly more dangerous than their two-wheeled counterparts. In fact, ATV riders are 50 percent more likely to die from their injuries when compared to off-road motorcycle-riders.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tallied 93,700 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries in 2014 alone. And it’s not just adults who are in danger. An estimated 26 percent of that total number involved children under the age of 16.
ARE SIDE-BY-SIDES SAFER?
Not necessarily. The popularity of side-by-sides—off-road vehicles with more seats, seat belts, and roll bars—is rising dramatically, while ATV sales are dropping. These alternatives are not automatically safer, however.
Side-by-sides were originally intended for use by farmers and builders to move supplies over rough terrain. Now that they’re taking to the trails, these vehicles are proving dangerous as well, even with these safety features.
The added weight and lack of helmet laws for these four-wheeled vehicles is what makes them so dangerous. This is especially true on uneven terrain where the vehicle can flip or roll over.
TIPS FOR OFF-ROAD SAFETY
Use these tips to make your off-road activities safer:
Always wear a helmet.
Tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back.
Avoid uneven terrain that could flip or roll you.
Ride with a group.
Stay off public roads.
Wear seat belts if provided.
Don’t take chances. If an accident happens, call 911 immediately.