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ATVs offer fun, but at the cost of serious risks

All terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a class of motorized vehicles that often get used for recreational purposes. Four-wheelers, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, three-wheelers and similar vehicles intended for off-road driving can exhilarate or injure. Some people, like farmers or Department of Natural Resources officers, may drive them as part of work. In colder regions, snowmobiles are critical to the ability to commute after a major snow storm. Most of the time, however, these vehicles get used as a means of entertainment or diversion. People ride them for the thrill of it, which can occasionally end poorly.

From 2013 to 2015, the most recent years with federal statistics available, the United State Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that at least 35 people in Louisiana died as the result of an ATV accident. Many more suffered serious injuries. While fear of an accident shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your life, you should use caution when driving or riding on an ATV. Especially if your children or other minors will be riding or driving these vehicles, careful operation is critical to the safety of everyone involved.

ATVs are small but can cause huge injuries

Louisiana recognizes that ATVs pose a safety risk to the citizens of the state. In order to limit that risk, all ATVs must be licensed and registered with the state unless they are only used for agricultural purposes. Proof of registration comes in the form of a sticker which should be replaced or renewed every two years. Many people own and enjoy these vehicles, but a small accident can lead to catastrophic injuries, especially if the rider or passenger doesn’t wear safety gear, like helmets and eye protection, while operating an ATV. An ATV will do little to protect you from an accident.

In fact, some ATVs, like three-wheelers, could injure you directly. Rollover accidents are common enough with these less-stable ATVs, and the weight of the vehicle can break bones or even prove fatal in some cases. If the vehicle itself doesn’t hurt you, the surrounding landscape could. Getting thrown from an ATV can result in serious injuries or death. Head and spinal injuries can easily happen when a person moving at a high speed strikes another object or vehicle. Broken bones could also easily happen. Even if you don’t crash, swerving into a tree or building could break an arm or a leg.

Letting guests operate an ATV on your property can be a dangerous decision. A property owner could get held liable for any injuries sustained during the ride. Depending on the person’s insurance policy, the ATV may not have coverage for liability. Because of the inherent risk, it’s important that ATV owners and enthusiasts understand potential risks and consider special insurance. For those injured by ATVs, civil lawsuits may prove the best way to seek compensation.

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Lake Charles, Louisiana


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