Teens Recovering After ATV Hits Tree
Eddie FarahOctober 03, 2008 11:20 PM
This week, a couple of teenage boys riding an all-terrain vehicle in Baker County, smashed into a tree after losing control of the ATV on a dirt road. Neither wore a helmet, and were both reported to be in serious condition.
17-year-old Michael Jewel of Sanderson was driving. The passenger was Thomas Harvey, 17, of Glen St. Mary.
Unbelievably, Florida does not require anyone wear a helmet over the age of 16.
Some parents and consumer groups want to ban the use of ATVs for anyone under the age of 21. Too often the machines are just too big to handle for a youngster, but that doesn't seem to stop sales.
ATV accidents killed at least 555 people in 2006 at least 100 children among them, according to government safety officials. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates another 146,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-injuries that year, more than a quarter of them children.
Riders and passengers of ATVs frequently suffer spinal cord injuries as they dive over the handlebars.
ATVs are supposed to carry a label from the manufacturer telling consumers that machines greater than 90 cc should not be attempted by riders under the age of 12. This is a recommendation only. A consumer safety agency should be telling the manufacturers what to do - not the other way around, especially when the safety of young people and children are involved.
The industry says ATVs have never been shown to be an unsafe product, but there is little to keep anyone safe during a rollover when they are thrown from the vehicle. Then there is the issue that many youngsters ride adult-size ATVs which are too big for them.
Dealers are not supposed to sell ATVs to parents who will allow children to ride them, but that is a suggestion only.
The CPSC reportedly met in March 2005 to discuss ATV dangers and reported data from 2004 that showed 150 kids had been killed while rising ATVs while 44,000 young people under the age of 16 were injured.
National pediatrician and consumer groups called on the commission to ban the sale of adult size ATVs for anyone under the age of 16. But the agency decided not to change its policy when the director of compliance, a former lawyer for the ATV industry, said the system of voluntary compliance was working.
Many at the CPSC have quit in disgust when, facing a shrinking budget, they try to regulate industries that appear to be calling the shots. One woman in a poison prevention expert said “there is only so much that a few people there can do.”
We know all too well what happens when industry is allowed to regulate itself. We hope this young men will recover and other parents will do their research before buying these potentially dangerous machines.