ATVs report: Paved roads, no helmets common in fatal accidents

economic-forecast-headerA new report highlights the dangers posed by using ATVs on roadways, without helmets and when consuming alcohol.

“ATVs might feel more stable than a dirt bike, but the rider is still not strapped into the vehicle, and there’s no protection from rollovers or crashes,” said Sam Rooks, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. vice president of underwriting and policy services. “Plus it’s obvious from this report that many drivers are using their vehicles on surfaces that ATVs are not designed for.”

According to a July 28 advisory from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 1,700 ATV riders died in crashes on public roads in the United States between 2007 and 2011. The VFBMIC is a member of the IIHS and has long advocated ATV safety in rural Virginia. The fatality numbers were compiled from surveys conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

According to information from those sources, the vast majority of ATV riders killed in crashes on public roads were 16 or older and male. Few of them wore a helmet, and many were impaired by alcohol. The study findings are published in September issue of the Journal of Safety Research.

“ATVs are prevalent in rural Virginia because they are practical tools for farm use and they’re fun to ride,” Rooks said. “Unfortunately, some ATV drivers take their vehicles onto paved roads where the additional traction of their machines can be tricky to handle. Or they are sharing the road with much faster and larger vehicles. And it appears from the data that some riders are trying to use ATVs to get around restrictions on drinking and driving. No off-road rider should ever use alcohol; it’s just as dangerous as driving a car impaired or texting while driving.”

The fatal crashes occurred primarily in rural areas and in 49 states. The highest number of deaths occurred in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas. Ninety percent of the ATV fatalities in the NHTSA database were male and 16 or older, and only 13 percent wore a helmet. Forty-three percent had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater. Three-quarters of the fatal ATV crashes were single-vehicle accidents, and 56 percent of them involved a rollover.

The VFBMIC shares guidelines for safe ATV use on its website at


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