Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV)

Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV)

April 16, 2007 16:18 ET

COHV: Analysis Shows ATV Training, Education Better Solution to Outright Ban

FREDERICTON, NEW BRUNSWICK--(CCNMatthews - April 16, 2007) - Over the past year and one-half there has been a lot of debate over whether it is better to ban youth from riding age-appropriate off-highway vehicles (OHVs) or for government to introduce legislation around education, training and mandatory supervision requirements.

Previously there was very little comparative data on whether a complete ban or government legislated education and training were the most effective way to deal with this issue. But recently, an analysis by Heiden Associates, a product safety and economic consulting firm based in Washington found that safety legislation can have a significant impact on the reduction in ATV injuries involving youth under 16 years of age.

So what did the Heiden Associates preliminary research suggest? When they examined fatality rates in three states that enacted safety legislation to regulate the use of ATVs by children under the age of 16, they determined the following results:

"Using the most recent data now available, the percent of fatalities in Kentucky sustained by riders under 12 has declined from 26 percent pre-law to 7 percent after the law was enacted." -- a decrease of 73.07 percent. "The percent of fatalities for riders under 16 declined from 55 percent to 19 percent after the law." -- a decrease of 65.45 percent. "Both results are statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level."

"In New Jersey, the fraction of fatalities in the state involving riders under 14 declined from 19 percent to 4 percent. The decrease in fatalities involving riders under 16 (went) from 31 percent to 12 percent (which) was statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level." Those results are declines of 78.95 percent and 61.29 percent respectively.

"In Texas, the percent of fatalities to riders under 14 declined from 41 percent pre-law to 22 percent after the law. The result in Texas is also statistically significantly at the 95 percent confidence level." The reduction in Texas was 46.34 percent.

So what was included in the legislation that resulted in these significant improvements in youth safety? In Kentucky, the law prohibits the operation of an ATV with an engine size greater than 90cc by a child under the age of 16. The New Jersey law prohibits operation of an ATV on public lands by a child under the age of 14 and operation of an ATV over 90cc on public lands by a person under 16. The Texas law requires adult supervision of all ATV operators under the age of 14.

Last year, under extreme pressure from the medical community and against the advise of safety experts, parents and OHV riders, the Nova Scotia government passed legislation prohibiting youth under 14 years of age from operating ATVs except on closed courses. Regrettably, there were no closed courses in Nova Scotia last year, which tells us that under the new law implemented in spring 2006 banning youth under 14 years of age from riding ATVs, it would be reasonable to assume that there should be zero ATV injuries reported for this age group.

The initial improvement in youth safety has been significantly less than the medical community promised. The results are much worse than the results achieved by the three states in the USA where safety regulations were implemented. This is proof that safety and education legislation, proposed by parents and safety experts, could result in improvements in youth safety if government were to implement similar regulations.

The medical community, safety experts, parents, rider federations, governments and the industry all want the same thing, to maximize safety and drastically reduce injuries and fatalities. The question is around how to achieve this and what is the most effective and reasonable way to do this.

While more research may be needed, it is becoming clear that banning youth from riding is less effective than education, training and adult supervision. Policy makers, in particular, should be careful not to jump to conclusions. Thorough and unbiased research is required so that fair and reasonable legislation is implemented.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributor Council (COHV)
    Jo-Anne Farquhar
    Manager of Communications
    Toll Free: 1-877-470-2288 or (416) 491-4439
    (416) 493-1985 (FAX)
    Website: /