ATV Safety Important, Especially for Children

ATV Safety Important, Especially for Children

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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting"A lot of our accidents are simply from tipping over, collisions, losing control of them, speed."

ATVs are gaining popularity as a fun outdoor sport, but with more machines come more injuries. Already this year, five people have died from ATV accidents.

Just over the weekend two young boys crashed in a go-cart in Cedar Hills and a 53-year-old man died after his ATV flipped in Tooele. We have an average of 12 ATV-related deaths a year in Utah. That's about one a month.

Because so many people are riding ATvs, they need some good training and knowledge of proper rules.

Twenty-three-year-old Briana Benson loves to paint, but lately she hasn't been able to drive to her art studio.

Briana Benson: "I got so lucky. I could have been paralyzed."

A couple weeks ago Benson took some ATVs to some sand dunes in Idaho and had a scary experience.

Briana Benson: "It was my last run, and I hit some big bumps - whoops - going sideways, and it just flew me off."

The ATV rolled on top of her, popping out her wrist and breaking her back.

Briana Benson: "I was in a lot of pain the first three days."

Since then she's been in a body brace and a colorfully-painted arm cast. Unfortunately, Benson's injuries are not extremely uncommon. From 1999 to 2003, more than 7-thousand people were sent to the emergency room with ATV injuries.

Cyndi Bemis, Health Department Injury Prevention Program: "When we look at the youth, there's especially a problem there because about one-third of all those injuries are occurring to children under age 14."

One of the problems is kids are riding machines that are too large for them, where they can't reach the brakes or shift their weight.

Eric Stucki, State Parks' OHV Education Coordinator: "A kid does not belong on an adult-sized machine. There are actually youth-sized machines for youth to ride."

And kids need training. What many parents don't realize is under Utah state law anyone without a license has to take an education course before operating an ATV.

Eric Stucki: "The instructor will teach them how to brake, how to shift their weight, go up hills, go over obstacles."

Of course, accidents can happen even with training. Benson says she won't let her injury stop her from riding.

Briana Benson: "They're just so fun. They're just a blast."

Kids under eight are not even allowed to ride ATVs on public land in Utah; it's illegal. Also, make sure to wear your helmet no matter how old you are, and never ride on public roads.

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