The Law Blog of Oklahoma

ATV Accident Claims Child in Beckham County

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An Oklahoma family is mourning their child after the 10-year-old boy was killed in an ATV accident near Elk City. Reports indicate that the child was driving the four-wheeler in a private pasture when he lost control, was thrown from the ATV, and it rolled over on top of him. Police say the vehicle was traveling at an unsafe speed and the rider was not wearing a helmet.

Every year in Oklahoma, summer fun turns to tragedy when an ATV accident leads to catastrophic injury. Nationally, the rate of accidents involving all-terrain vehicles is so high that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides a dedicated ATV Safety Information Center on its website.

ATV Accident Statistics

All-terrain vehicles have been known as a particularly dangerous form of recreation, with three-wheelers being so notoriously unstable that their manufacture and sale is now banned in the United States. However, even four wheelers, or quads, are responsible for a number of rollover accidents and deaths in ATV accidents

From the CPSC infographic at the end of this post, it appears that ATV accident deaths peaked in 2006 and have declined in the years following; however, the information from 2009 to 2012 is incomplete, which could indicate that ATV deaths continue to be a significant problem despite recalls and safety standards.

Most fatal ATV accidents take place in the summer months--May through September--which makes sense because people take advantage of warmer weather and vacation to ride. During these critical months, known as "Crunch Time" by the CPSC, 454 of the total ATV deaths between 2005 and 2008 occurred.

Although all-terrain vehicles are known for their instability and being prone to rolling over, nearly one third of all fatal ATV accidents occur on paved roads (33 percent), followed by unpaved roads (19 percent) and pastures, fields, or farmland (12 percent).

To stay safe while riding an ATV, the CPSC recommends the following tips:

  • Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. 
  • Do not allow a child under 16 drive or ride an adult ATV. 
  • Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride as a passenger. 
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear such as eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. 
  • Take a hands-on safety training course.

All-terrain vehicles in Oklahoma are governed by the state's Tourism and Recreation Department.Oklahoma ATV laws mandate the title and registration of all-terrain vehicles, the use of helmets by both operators and passengers, and the prohibition of ATVs on streets and highways except to cross a road or a railroad track or on unpaved United States Forest Service property.

Find Oklahoma's ATV laws here.

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