A new report released last week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that 555 Americans--including more than 100 youth--died from injuries sustained in all-terrain vehicle accidents in 2006 (the most recent year numbers are available).
The 2006 fatality numbers were was down from 666 in 2005.
The new data also revealed that an additional 146,600 people received emergency room treatment for ATV-related injuries in 2006.
The report also noted the top ten states for ATV fatalities between 1982 and 2006. In order they are Pennsylvania, 420; California, 418; West Virginia, 398; Texas, 386; Kentucky, 367; Florida, 349; Tennessee, 322; New York, 303; North Carolina, 297; and Michigan, 296.
John McCoy, my good friend and the fine outdoors scribe for the Charleston (WV) Gazette, put pencil to paper to reveal how the fatality numbers were a particular indictment of ATV riders—and ATV regulations--in The Mountain State.
Based on population, McCoy calculated that West Virginians are 2 1/2 times more likely to die in and ATV accident that residents of any other state.
By state, the chances of dying in an ATV wreck are: West Virginia, one in 4,554; Kentucky, one in 11,561; Texas, one in 16,260; Tennessee, one in 19,121; Pennsylvania, one in 29,673; North Carolina, one in 30,303; Michigan, one in 34,483; Florida, one in 52,356; New York, one in 62,500; and California, one in 87,719.
While some consumer groups and parents claim ATVs to be inherently unsafe, the industry points to speeding and operator judgment as contributing factors in most accidents.
“ATVs have never been shown to be an unsafe product, but there have been bad decisions made by people (operating them),” said Mike Mount, a spokesman for the California-based Specialty Vehicle Institute of America.
Indeed, in more than 75 percent of the incidents where speed could be determined, it appeared that the ATVs were being driven too fast for conditions. In nearly 60 percent of the fatalities, riders were not wearing helmets. For younger riders, ages 6-11, about 30 percent of the ATV accidents involved collisions; at least 27 percent involved ATVs that rolled over.