PRO: Rules should extend to private property, keep kids off ATVs

Sonny Long

Dec. 2, 2012 at 6:02 a.m.
Updated Dec. 3, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.

For Sue DeLoretto-Rabe, whose 10-year-old son Kyle died in a four-wheeler accident in 2002, the solution to ATV safety is simple -- keep kids off of all-terrain vehicles.

"ATVs are too dangerous for children to be operating on both public and private land," she said. "We believe that there should be an age restriction in every state when it comes to children being on ATVs just like there are with cars, alcohol, smoking or riding in a car seat."

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children under 16 suffer almost 40 percent of all ATV-related injuries and fatalities in the U.S. each year.

DeLoretto-Rabe, the co-founder of Concerned Families for ATV Safety, said warning stickers on machines and lack of mandatory safety courses contribute to the problem. Her son died in a crash on a neighbor's property in Turner, Ore.

"Children will continue to die and become severely injured until we can get laws passed prohibiting them to ride these machines," she said.

Robin Schier, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, wrote her doctoral dissertation on children and ATV safety.

"I am a huge advocate for age restrictions and for strict enforcement, even on private property," she said.

"Children under the age of 16 lack the physical, cognitive and emotional maturity to operate these complex, powerful vehicles."

Texas law requires adult supervision for any ATV operators under 14, but even that isn't enough, said Schier.

"Supervision will not prevent deaths and injuries," she said. "Parents can not prevent these crashes by watching them. It will only allow them to witness the horrific event themselves."

Safety training helps, but it isn't the answer either, said Schier.

"ATV injuries and deaths in children are 100 percent preventable," Schier insisted. "The only answer is to ... keep kids off these dangerous vehicles. Danger awareness must be increased. They are not toys. We must protect our children."

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