At the peak of the all-terrain vehicle touring season in St. Lawrence County, the dangers and risks associated with the use of ATVs are being emphasized by the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection.
There were a total of 327 ATV- related fatalities across the United States in 2011, and an estimated 107,500 ATV-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms that year.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 29,000 of those injured were children less than 16 years of age.
Last year, the New York Department of State, under the auspices of the CPSC, conducted onsite visits of ATV dealerships in New York to see how well they were adhering to age recommendation guidelines and other safety requirements of federal law.
Out of the 10 dealerships visited by investigators, it was revealed that five dealer salespersons had recommended the sale of adult ATVs – by federal law, those for use by people aged 16 and older -- for a 14-year-old child.
Four of the dealer salespersons provided little or no information about ATV vehicle safety.
These findings stress the need for greater enforcement of the federal and state guidelines as well as more consumer awareness on the dangers and risks associated with ATVs, according to the Division of Consumer Protection.
The DCP offers these tips and guidelines for ATV purchasing and use:
• Review New York State’s ATV laws. Visit the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website at www.dmv.ny.gov
• Find out about ATV operation and safety guidelines. For those, visit the CPSC’s website at www.atvsafety.gov
• Be aware of age restrictions. No one under the age of 10 may ride or operate an ATV. Operators between 10 and 15 may ride an ATV only on their parent’s property if they are under their parent’s supervision or have a safety training certificate.
• Choose an ATV model appropriate for your child's age. Follow the state and federal guidelines and the manufacturer's Minimum Age Recommendation Warning Label on the ATV.
• Take an ATV training course. ATV drivers, including children under 16, should take a hands-on ATV safety course from a certified instructor. These courses are offered by the ATV Safety Institute, local ATV rider groups, some state departments of natural resources, state highway departments, and other agencies responsible for regulating ATV use.
• Use safety equipment. All riders (operator and passengers) should wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, over-the-ankle boots and gloves, at all times.
• Obtain information from the dealer. When shopping for an ATV make sure the salesperson discusses the owner’s manual and any safety information in it from the manufacturer.
• Know passenger limitations. No passengers are allowed on the ATV unless it is designed to carry more than one person. Passengers can easily fall off the back of the ATV when it takes off.
• Do not use ATVs use on highways. Travel only in areas open and approved for ATV use.
• Use caution. ATVs are deceptive and can flip over when driven improperly.
For more information on ATV safety and ATV use, or to file a complaint against a business or an individual, contact the NYS Department of State Division of Consumer Protection hotline at (800) 697-1220 or visit www.dos.ny.gov .