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Are all-terrain vehicles safe for children to ride?

Spring and summer are two seasons where the rate of injuries and deaths related to all-terrain vehicles rises precipitously. During one two-year period tracked by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fatality rates for those 15 and younger due to ATV accidents spiked on average more than 65 percent from the months of March to April.

To learn how both adults and children can have a safer ATV-riding experience, put the following tips into practice:

-- Participate in ATV safety training courses.

-- If the ATV is designed to carry only one person, don't carry a passenger.

-- If the ATV is designed for adults, kids under 16 shouldn't use it.

-- Wear helmets and other protective gear when three- or four-wheeling.

-- Don't operate ATVs on streets or highways.

In addition to ATVs, recreational off-highway vehicles (often called side-by-sides) have become popular. These come equipped with steering wheels, bucket or bench seats with seatbelts and foot controls. Yet they, too, have been involved in many incidents of deaths and injuries due to rollovers. Some even occur on even surface areas.

Just like with ATVs, certain common sense rules apply when riding ROVs:

-- All passengers should be able to sit with their feet on the floor while sitting back against the seat.

-- Keep passengers out of cargo holds and don't overload the ROV.

-- Seat belts should always be worn.

-- Only licensed drivers should operate ROVs.

-- Keep ROVs off of streets and roadways.

-- Only drive at safe speeds, with special attention paid on slopes and when turning.

-- Don't use drugs or alcohol when operating ROVs.

If you or your children are injured in an ATV or ROV accident, you may have to file a claim for damages for your injuries.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission, "CPSC Warns Memorial Day Weekend Among the Deadliest Holidays for ATV Riders," accessed April 29, 2016

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