Risky Recreation: Only 3 States Had Higher Death Rate Than Pennsylvania In Accidents Involving ATVs

(Reading Eagle:  Published 03/04/2017, Henshaw, Steven, Web).

In a state whose name refers to forest or woods, it should come as no surprise that Pennsylvania would rank high in terms of deaths in accidents involving all-terrrain vehicles in the United States. The Keystone State had the fourth most ATV accident deaths from 1982 through 2015, according to the latest ATV Annual Report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Only Texas, California, and West Virginia had more deaths than Pennsylvania, where 635 deaths were recorded, according to the report. Those four states collectively account for 3,208 deaths, or 25 percent, of the 14,129 reported ATV-related deaths in the U.S. from 1982 through 2012. (Data collection for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 is considered incomplete, and the figures are expected to rise).

While taking a four-wheeler out for a spin is a recreational activity many enjoy, it continues to be a dangerous and deadly activity when safety precautions are not followed, with 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries annually attributed to accidents involving ATVs, the CPSC said in announcing the report’s release. About one-fifth, or 3,163, of the ATV-related fatalities in the nation involved children younger than 16. Of those, 44 percent were younger than 12.

Local police officials say they’re not surprised there are more ATV-related deaths in Pennsylvania than 46 other states, given its size and characteristics outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “When you look at our state as a whole, there’s a lot of rural area, especially when in the northwestern part and even in Schuylkill County, where people have access to a lot of land for ATV riding,” said state Trooper David C. Beohm, spokesman for Reading-based Troop L., which includes Schuylkill County and part of Lebanon County. While he can’t point to any evidence, he said he would guess that many, if not most, ATV riders don’t wear helmets and other safety equipment, which would increase the risk of a fatality, Beohm said. Because ATVs aren’t usually driven on a public road, people probably tend to be lax when it comes to safety equipment because there’s no off-road enforcement of helmet and seat belt laws, Cumru Township Police Chief Madison Winchester said. Winchester believes injuries from ATVs are more common than most people realize.

Quick Facts for a Safer Ride can be found at https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/ATV-Safety-Information-Center/Quick-Facts-for-a-Safer-Ride/.

To highlight, here are some key safety tips for ATV riders from the CPSC:

  • Stay off paved roads.
  • Never allow younger children on adult ATVs.
  • Don’t allow more people on the vehicle than it was designed to carry.
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
  • Get hands on training from a qualified instructor

The attorneys at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of children and families in Reading, Berks County, PA, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. The lawyers there handle injury claims, including claims for serious injuries or death caused by the negligence of others and by unsafe and dangerous products.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire

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