April 2, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

The all-terrain vehicle (ATV) has gained popularity as a tool for use by farmers and for recreation. As its popularity has increased, so have the number of injuries or deaths associated with improper use.

Some safety precautions can go a long way in ensuring the safe use of these vehicles.

“ATVs are not a toy, and if misused can result in serious injuries and even death to the operator,” said Larry Piercy, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture agricultural safety and health specialist. “Be sure all operators have adequate training, skill and maturity before operating an ATV.”

ATV sales have jumped dramatically in recent years and with that has come an increase in size and power - some are now capable of going 60 to 70 miles per hour, Piercy said.

With the increase in popularity, Piercy noted, comes a corresponding increase in injuries and deaths. The first ATV death was reported in Kentucky in 1984, and until the mid 1990s Kentucky averaged about 7 deaths per year with about 40 percent of those involving youth below 16 years of age, he said.

According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, with growing sales in the 1990s the number of deaths jumped to a high of 36 deaths reported in 2002. Since 1996, 162 deaths have been attributed to ATVs for an average of 23 per year.

Most of this increase involves adults, but the number of deaths of young people also has increased, Piercy said.

With proper use, these vehicles can provide a great help to farmers and offer recreational users hours of enjoyment.

Operators should always use the proper helmet and other protective gear when operating an ATV, Piercy said. There should be only one operator per machine, no riders. Kentucky law states that anyone under 16 should be under direct parental supervision when operating an ATV, he said.

The law also states that youth under 16 cannot operate an ATV with an engine size of more than 90 cubic centimeters. Any youth under age 12 should not operate an ATV with an engine size above 70 cubic centimeters.

A few simple safety precautions can go a long way in reducing injuries and deaths.



Larry Piercy, (859) 257-5671