School children from kindergarten to their senior year in high school look forward to the final bell on the last day of school every spring. Summer means no school, free time, and, more importantly, more recreational time. It also means idle time. And with idle time, the students will find something to amuse themselves. One of those things is often riding All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).
ATVs are open-engine vehicles with three or four towers and a seat designed to be straddled. The vehicle is designed to ride over rough terrain and can be a tremendous amount of fun. However, even for the most experienced rider, they can also be terribly dangerous.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), since 1982, Texas has recorded a total of 780 deaths in ATV accidents, leading the entire nation — and with 55 more deaths than second-placed West Virginia, which had 725 deaths. Texas was second in deaths for the years 2013 to 2015 with 82 ATV fatalities, behind only West Virginia, with 84 deaths.
The All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ASI) has several tips to help keep young riders safe:
- Dress Appropriately – ASI recommends safety gear approved by the Department of Education, including helmet, gloves, goggles and other gear.
- Avoid Paved Roads – Except when crossing, ASI recommends avoiding paved roads because of the potential dangers of being hit by other vehicles.
- Ride Sober – Alcohol and drugs affect judgment, reflexes and coordination. All three are vital to safely operate an ATV at speed.
- Don’t Double Up – If the seat is meant for one, don’t try to fit two.
- Get the Right Size – Different ATVs are meant for different ages and sizes – find one appropriate for you. Trying to ride an ATV not right for your size can end in tragedy.
- Supervision – ATVs are not toys – teens and children under 16 should be supervised.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) also suggests taking an education class. DPS has been offering ATV safety classes since 1989, when they were first offered under the Motorcycle Safety Bureau. In 1998, the bureau was renamed the Motorcycle/ATV Training unit.
Follow the Rules
The State of Texas also has several laws regarding ATVs, with safety of the operator and others the primary concern. Among the laws, CPSC reports that Texas dictates:
- ATVs on public property must be registered.
- ATVs are prohibited on public streets.
- If under 14 years old, the rider must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- On public lands, all riders must have a safety certification or be with someone who does.
- To ride after sunset and before daybreak, ATVs must have a lit headlight and taillight
ATVs can be an incredibly fun way to travel through the country or simply enjoy for adventure. However, because of the inherent dangers associated with any activity of this type, it’s absolutely necessary to follow all laws and safety suggestions.
With more than 50 years of legal experience between them, the partners of Guajardo and Marks of Dallas have the knowledge and resources to help with your legal needs. The firm has a reputation of unparalleled success and looks forward to assisting our fellow Texans. For answers to your questions or to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.