We tend to be thrill seekers. Whether that urge is met through skydiving, riding roller coasters, or racing cars, we each have a preferred way to get our adrenaline fixes. Anyone who has ridden one can’t deny that ATV’s can be a lot of fun, but they can also be incredibly dangerous.
All Terrain Vehicles are also sometimes called four-wheelers or quads. They’re meant for use off road, so owners generally tend to live in more rural areas. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with owning or operating a vehicle like an ATV. They’re powerful, fast, and, unfortunately, notoriously unstable. Accidents can happen quickly and with little time to react, so we’ve compiled some tips that can help prevent ATV accidents.
Despite their reputation for danger, ATV’s can be safe if operated properly. While driving an ATV, do make sure to control your speed and be aware of your center of gravity. The majority of ATV accidents are caused when they overturn, usually backwards. Excessive speed, especially when combined with a steep slope, is a recipe for disaster.
Weight distribution is a huge factor in determining your four-wheeler’s center of gravity. Passengers are discouraged, as they put more weight on the rear end of the vehicle, making it even more back-heavy and likely to roll over. To optimize safety, do limit your ATV to one rider unless it’s been specifically built for two people. Here are a few more “do’s” of ATV-ing:
- Do invest in safety gear: Protect your head, always wear a helmet! Gear such as googles, non-skid boots, chest/back armor, and elbow, knee, and wrist pads also have the potential to save you from injury.
- Do know your limits and the limits of your vehicle: Don’t ever attempt something on an ATV that you’re not comfortable with. Likewise, don’t push your vehicles past it’s abilities, i.e. driving it through very deep water or up a very steep slope.
- Do inspect your ATV before riding: Make sure all the lights are working, other electronics are operating as expected, and test the brakes.
- Do check the forecast before you ride: It’s never good to be trapped in the wilderness in inclement weather. If you do get stuck, park the ATV in a safe area and seek shelter nearby.
- Do take a safety course: Even if you’ve ridden ATV or similar vehicles before, a safety course can help you brush up on your skills and be more prepared in the event of an emergency.
- Do carry a communication device: Whether that’s a radio or a cell phone, just make sure to have a way to get in touch with civilization in the event someone in your group is injured.
- Do read the manual: Yes, the manual may not be thrilling reading material but it is extremely helpful in understanding how your vehicle is designed to operate. Knowing your vehicle’s inner workings can only help if you find yourself in a tricky situation.
The biggest “don’t” of quad riding relates to the age of the driver. Many states require that the age of the driver be 16 years or older. In Wisconsin, children 12 years old and up are permitted to drive an ATV after the successful completion of a safety course.
Still, operating an ATV is a big responsibility, one that some 12 year olds may not be ready for, so use your best judgment when allowing a child to drive your ATV. This brings us to our #1 don’t: never allow a child under the legal age limit to drive an ATV. It poses danger to the child, the vehicle, and everyone in the vicinity. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly one third of the 241 ATV fatalities recorded in Wisconsin from 1982-2007 were children under 16.
There are a lot of other “don’ts” when it comes to riding an ATV, including:
- Don’t tamper with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts: Unless you’re an experienced ATV technician, it’s better to leave repairs to the experts.
- Don’t put passengers on a single-rider ATV: As we’ve said several times already, adding a passenger to an ATV that is not built to carry one puts both passenger and driver at increased risk.
- Don’t take new terrain for granted: If you’re riding in an unfamiliar area, take it easy. You never know when you’re going to come across an obstacle you’re not prepared to handle.
- Don’t ride on public roads: Only ride on trails where ATV access is clearly designated.
- Don’t operate a malfunctioning ATV: It’s simply not safe. If your ATV is in poor working condition or in need of repair, take it to a shop before you go out on it again.
- Don’t drive an ATV while impaired: Never operate an ATV if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It puts your own safety at risk, as well as the safety of innocent bystanders.
- Don’t do tricks: An ATV is not a dirt bike. They are not light or aerodynamic or balanced. Simply put, they’re not meant for tricks or jumps. Unless you’re already an experienced ATV stuntman, don’t try it.
- Don’t drive after dark: Even with a headlight, visibility is too low to drive safely at night. You could easily collide with an object or animal that you never saw coming.
- Don’t go out alone: While you shouldn’t have a passenger on your ATV, you definitely should not be riding alone. Always go out with a companion, or better yet a group, for accountability and safety.
Following our tips for ATV-ing can certainly help you prepare for your next ride, but accidents are still going to happen. Injuries sustained from an ATV crash can range from mild to severe, just as with a car accident.
The most important thing to do if you’ve been injured on an ATV is to seek medical attention immediately. Regardless of whether or not you believe the injuries are serious, go to the hospital. You may be in shock and unable to realize the gravity of the situation. Not to mention the fact that certain injuries, including neck and back injuries, can occur with little to no pain at onset but actually be extremely serious/life threatening.
ATV accidents can occur due to:
- Hitting another object
- The driver being thrown from the vehicle
- Defective products/parts
- The negligence of others
The most common ATV injuries are:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Loss of limb
- Skull fractures
- Broken ribs
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken arms
- Crushed wrists
- Injuries to internal organs
- Cerebral contusion
- Internal bleeding
If you’ve been injured in an ATV accident that was not your fault, you have to do more than just go to the hospital. It’s crucial that you gather as much evidence as possible. This is your best legal defense if you are denied coverage by your insurance or harmed by the negligence of another person. Immediately after an accident you should:
- Record accident information: date, time, vehicle serial number, and location.
- Write down the contact information of those involved.
- Journal the events from your perspective.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, vehicles, and injuries from a variety of angles.
- Get the names and testimonies of any witnesses
- Seek legal counsel from a Wisconsin personal injury attorney at Boller & Vaughan.
The last thing you need after an accident is to have to worry about fighting insurance companies or chasing the responsible party down for the compensation you deserve. Speak with an attorney ASAP and you stand a better chance of recovering damages for:
- Current medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Damages for pain and suffering
- Other expenses related to the crash.
As we’ve mentioned, evidence is key. To give you the best chance of a fair settlement, you need to have ample evidence proving your injuries as well as the negligence of others. Once you’ve gathered everything you can, bring it to us.
The attorneys at Boller & Vaughan have years of experience navigating the successful settlement of complicated personal injury cases. We’ll take care of the details so that you can focus on the most important thing, feeling better and getting your life back on track. Contact us so we can start helping you now. Fill out the contact form on this page or call us at 608-268-0268 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.