ATV riding is a favorite recreational sport in Venango County and throughout Pennsylvania, which has close to 800 miles of designated ATV trails. ATV riders look forward to spring when the snow and cold weather are finally gone and the ATV riding season begins. As much as people look forward to ATV season, ATV accident attorneys know that when people plan ATV excursions, they do not expect to end up in the emergency room and they certainly do not plan for the long road to recovery, missed work, medical expenses, and pain and suffering after an ATV accident.
Pennsylvania ATV law
Owners must register their ATVs in Pennsylvania (with an exception for vehicles used solely as a farm or business vehicle) and they are required to carry liability insurance unless the ATV is operated exclusively on the owner’s property. ATVs may be operated on Pennsylvania State owned property designated for ATV use. They also may be operated on private property with permission from the owner. Children ages 8 – 16 may not operate ATVs outside of their parents’ or guardians’ property unless they have obtained a state safety certificate.
ATV accidents and children
Pennsylvania restricts children under the age of 8 years old from operating ATVs on state owned property. As mentioned above, children between the ages of 8 and 16 are only permitted to operate on state land if they have their safety certificate. The American Academy of Pediatricians cautions that children under the age of 16 should not use ATVs. Some of the reasons that children are at a higher risk for ATV accidents and injuries are detailed below.
- ATVs may be too big and too powerful requiring more strength than children typically have to safely operate and maneuver ATVs.
- Children do not have the maturity and experience to understand and appreciate the dangers that ATVs pose
- Even when children understand ATV operation rules for safe riding, the temptation to ride too fast and take other risks is still there and adult supervision is necessary.
- When children lack ATV training, they do know how to avoid common dangerous scenarios and risks. This is why Pennsylvania requires training for children ages 8 to 16 if they are operating ATVs off of their parents’ property.
Causes and contributing factors in ATV accidents
Common causes and contributing factors in ATV accidents include:
- Operating at a speed that is not safe for the property and weather conditions
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Lack of supervision and training for child operators
- Dangerous property conditions
- Operator negligence
- ATV defects and defective parts
- Poor ATV maintenance
- Multiple riders on an ATV only suited for one rider