Parachute joins a number of injury prevention organizations in calling for All Terrain Vehicle regulations based on scientific evidence and reflecting the benefits of automobile legislative efforts, including a minimum driver age of 16 years. Parachute would also recommend a legislated minimum driver age of 16 years to commence ATV and Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) driver-training programs.
The rise in popularity of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has been accompanied by a rise in catastrophic injury. Like cars, ATVs are motorized vehicles that require adult skills and judgment to operate safely. ATVs can travel up to speeds of 105 km/h and can weigh up to 227 kilograms, approximately 500 pounds. Parachute recognizes that while ATVs pose a degree of risk to all riders, the risks are greater for children and youth.
As hospital data indicates that head injuries are a serious risk of ATV and OHV incidents, Parachute advocates the use of appropriate helmets and clothing during ATV and OHV use for people of all ages.
We are very supportive of the principle of ATV and OHV driver training; however, we do not have enough evaluation research at our disposal to recommend a particular training approach.
In the absence of legislation preventing the operation of ATV and OHV by children under 16, Parachute does recognize the value of educating younger riders in rural and farming communities for the purpose of work and travel. This can be a great opportunity for parents to model safe behaviour and explain that, just like driving cars, ATVs need adult skills and knowledge. According to data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, serious injuries have occurred to children in recreational areas, on roads and highways and on farms.
The Canadian Paediatric Society have spoken out about the dangers of children under 16 years of age driving any off-highway vehicles.They have seen the severe injuries and tragic deaths first hand. Injury experts agree that children younger than 16 years of age do not have the knowledge, physical development, or cognitive and motor ability to safely drive these machines. Also, young children do not have the strength to hold on for very long.
Once a child reaches 16 years of age, appropriate training classes are a great way to develop the skills, knowledge, and confidence required to safety operate an off-highway vehicle. Helmets are also important for all drivers and on every ride (approved for ATV or motorcycle use). It’s not easy for children to be patient, but this approach may prevent serious injury or even death.
Ontario Medical Association position statement (pdf)
All terrain vehicle provincial legislative chart (pdf)
Canadian Paediatric Society - Snowmobile position statement (pdf)