ATV Safety Awareness

It’s a popular family sport, hitting the trails on ATVs. It’s fun and for some families, a long-standing tradition. But is that tradition worth the risk?

Basically, know what kind of risk you’re taking or allowing your family to take when any of you get on an ATV. There’s a lot to learn from statistics released by

Between 1982 and 2007, 419 people lost their lives in ATV related crashes in Kentucky. Tennessee had 358 deaths, Missouri 265 deaths, and Illinois the lowest with 202.

That’s more than 1,200 seemingly avoidable deaths in just four states. That’s a number U.S. safety experts say is not OK. Now one family is speaking out about the untimely death of their young son and what they want you to learn from their loss.

After hockey practice, Katie Kearney’s 8-year-old son Sean, went to his friend’s house to play. But their lives changed in one instant, with one phone call from local police.

Sean was riding an ATV with a friend when they crashed. Sean was thrown from the ATV and on his way to Vanderbilt with critical injuries. Five days later, Sean died in his parents’ arms.

“My husband dropped him off and just assumed the activities for the day would be street hockey and video games and what normal 8-year-old boys do,” said Kearney.

The latest U.S. figures indicate that ATV accidents kill more than 700 people and injure almost 200,000 others every year.

ATVs are designed for trails, but more and more ATV crashes are happening on American roads. 35 states have passed either laws or local ordinances allowing ATVs to operate on roads in certain conditions. Most agree that’s a recipe for disaster, except for Ken Anderson.

Anderson is the former head of the Massachusetts ATV Riders Association. He says opening roads to ATVs helps local economies and allows families better access to the great outdoors.

“I see no problem with it as long as people are operating reasonably,” said Anderson.

But for a family that will never be complete again, Katie Kearney says it’s simple, the move puts more kids at risk.

“I think if people are really interested in having their children ride on these then they should sit in an emergency room for a weekend,” said Kearney.

Kearney fought hard to make ATV riding safer in Massachusetts. Named after her son, “Sean’s Law” restricts operating an ATV on any road and prohibits children under 10 from riding one. She wishes more states would follow her lead.

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