ATVs and Off-Road Vehicle Safety - Wearing a Helmet

Operating and riding on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is risky and should be done as safely as possible.  Pennsylvania is among the states with the highest death rates due to ATVs, joining California, Texas, and West Virginia.

In recent years, there have been nearly 600 ATV-related deaths and nearly 100,000 ATV-related injuries each year. In 2016, of the 591 ATV-related fatalities, 65 (11%) were to children younger than 16 years. Of those 65 fatalities to children younger than 16 years of age, 29 (45%) of those fatalities occurred in children under the age of 12. More than a quarter of all injuries — 26 percent — occur in children 16 and younger; of those injuries, more than half occurred to children under the age of 12. Injuries include severe brain trauma, facial trauma, broken bones, and spine trauma. These injuries are painful and may result a lifetime of disability and/or physical rehabilitation or death. Most traumas are caused from the ATV rolling over, falling from the ATV, or colliding with another object.

At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the number of ATV injuries increases every year. The newest trend noted is an increase in the number of traumas to girls as a result of ATV crashes 

Safety Tips

Injury Prevention ATV and Off-Road cartoon

Children and teenagers under the age of 16 should not operate or ride an ATV. Teenagers and adults who are 16 or older should exercise the following precautions:

  • Wear a helmet with eye protection/face guard.
  • Operate an ATV appropriate in size.
  • Take a “hands-on” training course offered by certified instructors.
  • Wear protective gear — boots, glove, long pants, and long sleeves.
  • Operate an ATV during daylight — ATVs do not provide adequate lighting when the vehicle is bouncing or during turning.
  • Do not carry passengers — ATVs are designed for one person.
  • Do not ride on public roads — the tires are not made for paved or loose gravel roads, and riding on these roads can cause the ATV to flip.
  • Never use alcohol while operating the vehicle.