Charlotte County shows an alarming trend: ATV accidents on the rise. During the pandemic, experts say that outdoors is the safest place to be to avoid exposure to the virus. More riders can mean more ATV accidents.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) reports that so far this year, sales are the best in three years for powersports, which include All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), side-by-sides, and motorcycles. Off road motorcycle sales are up 18.9% through March 2020. Powersports May 2020 sales by Honda are up 172% over last May.
Many believe stay-at-home orders, children out of school and stimulus checks have fueled powersport purchases.
If used safely and correctly, powersports are a great outside activity, and Charlotte County is a favored place to ride. The safest place is off-road parks, which have rules and groomed trails.
However, off-road parks including Florida Tracks and Trails in Punta Gorda, closed last year for financial reasons, and Redneck Mud Park in Punta Gorda only has occasional weekend events. As a result, many young, new and inexperienced riders are taking to the woods and rural areas in Charlotte County or riding on roads and in neighborhoods.
Experts worry that increased use, particularly by younger riders will result in more ATV accidents on the rise. ATV accidents hurt about 135,000 people nationwide every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Almost 75% of the of ATV accidents result in spinal cord and brain injuries. One in 10 victims are permanently disabled. Riders under the age of 16 receive one-third of the injuries.
Causes of ATV accidents on the rise include drunk driving, speeding, hill-climbing, rollovers and too many riders on the ATV. Following safety advice, including where to ride, can prevent many accidents.
ATV Accidents on the Rise
ATV riders in Florida can ride during the day on an unpaved public roads with a posted speed limit less than 35 m.p.h. Riders cannot run an ATV on any other public road, street or highway. As fast as cars but with low pressure tires, ATVs are prone to tipping and losing control. More than half of ATV deaths are on public or private roads.
Without a driver’s license requirement, children are often the riders. One study showed that the average age of most ATV drivers is 12.8 years old.
Florida requires riders and passengers under age 16 to wear a safety helmet, eye protection and ankle boots and be supervised by an adult. Riders under age 16 must also show completion of a state-approved safety course.
How to Ride Safely
If you choose to ride, here’s how to stay safe and avoid ATV accidents:
- Wear safety gear. ATVs have no safety cages, roll bars or seatbelts. Protective clothing will help prevent scrapes and cuts if thrown from an ATV.
- Ride or drive on trails at your skill level. Always ride at a safe speed on a trail meant for ATVs.
- Be at least 16 years old. Anyone younger than 16 is less likely to have the strength and experience to drive an ATV safely.
- Get safety certified. Before you ride an ATV on a trail, learn how to ride in a controlled setting.
- Ride an ATV that’s right for your size and age, as shown on the warning label.
- Know basic first aid for minor injuries and be able to get help in an emergency in case of ATV accidents.
If You Have an ATV Accident
Insurance is also important for powersports – especially ATV accidents on the rise. ATVs are titled but not registered and do not have to be insured. Some state-owned lands and parks require riders to have ATV liability insurance.
Without coverage like Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Personal Damage Liability (PDL), riders in an ATV accident will not be covered for medical costs or damaging another person’s property. Also, many health insurance policies exclude covering injuries from activities such as motorcycles, ATVs and jet skis.
As with car and truck accidents, an ATV accident victim may be able to recover medical expenses, lost income, psychological anguish, property repairs and pain and suffering. Deciding who is at fault is a good start to figuring out with which insurance policy to file your claim. An ATV expert injury attorney knows your legal rights and understands the process of holding the ATV driver responsible for your injuries. Our firm has extensive experience in handling ATV accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for ATV accident victims. Contact us if are a victim of such a crash.