Children and ATVs
In years gone by, all-terrain vehicles, known as ATVs, were mostly considered work and recreation vehicles on farms for both adults and children. Not any longer. Today, ATV recreational riding has become popular among many demographics. The term “all-terrain” is taken seriously, so ATVs are found in fields, on beaches, down dirt paths, as well as on unpaved and even paved roads.
Is it Legal for Children to Ride ATVs?
Florida Statute 316.2123 states that ATV driving is legal if riders have a valid driver’s license. In the case of minors too young to obtain a driver’s license, they may operate an ATV legally as long as they are being supervised by an adult licensed driver. The law does not describe limits on the type of ATV or other limits in regard to children ATV operators.
Are ATVs Safe for Children?
While the law itself doesn’t mention safety for children on ATVs beyond supervision, there is a consensus among government agencies that operation of adult ATVs by children under 16 is potentially dangerous and not recommended. With proper training and safety, ATV driving can be an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, Florida has moved to the top five on the list of ATV accidents and the top 10 for ATV-related fatalities. These statistics do not mention the percentage of children involved in these ATV accidents or fatalities.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, reports that nationally, 77 children under age 16 die in ATV accidents each year, while 26% of the 101,200 injuries in the US in 2016 happened to children under 16. The CPSC further expresses a concern that children under 16 do not have the skills necessary to control the more powerful Adult ATVs. They recommend children being limited to operating youth version ATVs, complete with speed limiters.
Checking the label on your ATV will tell you the recommended ages for that particular model. The CPSC also does not recommend multiple riders on an ATV, especially when they exceed the number of seats. They consider children riding with an adult on an ATV to be potentially dangerous, as well.
While ATV operation by children can be legal, it’s not recommended. Parents of children who have been injured or worse while driving or riding an ATV may be entitled to compensation. Contact Tison Law Group to learn more about your rights and options.