Should It Be Illegal For Children To Ride ATVs?
Consumer safety groups, ATV enthusiasts and the ATV industry all agree that ATV safety is important, especially child safety. However, these three groups seldom agree on what actions or changes are needed to improve child safety.
The Consumer Federation of America and The American Academy of Pediatrics have both petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to ban the sale of children’s ATVs that are capable of traveling more than 38 miles per hour. This would be a total ban of transitional ATVs in the 14 – 16 age bracket.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that children ages 12 – 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s.
The American Academy of Pediatrics takes it one step further and recommends that children under the age of 16 should never ride an ATV.
The ATV Industry Responds
In an attempt to self regulate, the ATV industry formed the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and it’s off-shoot, All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute. These two not for profit organizations are trade associations that work to promote “the safe and responsible use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) through rider training programs, public awareness campaigns, and state legislation. SVIA also serves as a resource for ATV research, statistics, and vehicle standards. “1
The ATV industry has a vested interest in selling ATVs, but they also have a vested interest in consumer safety.
Accidents and deaths are a tragedy and also bad for business.
Accidents and deaths also increase the odds of increased legislation and perhaps outright bans.
5 Age Brackets for Kids ATVs
This is why the industry driven All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (ATV Safety Institute) established age brackets to help parents and buyers make educated choices when selecting a safe ATV for children.
Most major ATV/Off Road manufacturers are members of the ATV Safety Institute including: Can-Am, Kawasaki, Kymco, Honda, Polaris, Suzuki, Textron and Yamaha. All of these manufactures put the above age limit warning labels on their vehicles, making it easier for parents to make informed decisions.
Before Choosing An ATV For Your Child
You know your child better than anyone.
When it comes to deciding whether your child is ready for an ATV or not, you need to consider their emotional maturity.
This is probably the most important factor that parents need to consider before even selecting an ATV. Is your child confidant, responsible, emotionally calm, attentive?
Do they understand that actions have consequences? Unless the answer is yes, then the best option is to wait a year or two and reassess their maturity at that time.
What Size ATV Does My Child Need?
Children’s ATV sizes are primarily based on a child’s height.
Children should never be allowed to ride an adult sized vehicle. An appropriately sized vehicle is one where the child can comfortably sit upright and reach the hand controls and foot pedals without needing to stretch or strain.
However, if your child is a more experienced rider, then it makes sense that they would be able to handle a more powerful machine.
A child who started riding at age 6 may be able to safely handle more horsepower at age 14. However, a 14 year old who is just learning how to ride may need a smaller ATV. So, experience does need to be factored into the equation.
Taller heavier children may also need a slightly larger machine in order to acheive a proper fit and ride comfortably. But, you still need to choose one that is in keeping with their skill level.