News, Announcements and Expert Commentary from Inova

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs): Get the facts about safety

Jordan Tyczka, MSN, RN, CEN is the Trauma Services Educator at Inova Loudoun Hospital. Inova Loudoun Hospital is a designated Level III Trauma Center – Loudoun County’s first and only trauma center.

With the spring and summer months just on the horizon, we find ourselves turning to the great outdoors. A popular activity is driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). With powerful engines and the capability to reach speeds up to 50 mph, ATVs can be exciting but dangerous as well.

Dangers of an ATV

  • They weigh about 800 pounds
  • Very high center of gravity
  • No roll bars, safety cages, or seatbelts
  • High rates of roll overs
  • Not designed for highways or paved roads

Know the law about ATV safety

In Virginia, any person operating an ATV must wear a protective helmet.

Basic ATV safety tips

Children under the age of 16 should not ride an ATV. While they can legally ride specific ATVs with smaller engines, in 2015, ATVs killed at least 58 children younger than 16 which accounted for 17% of all ATV fatalities. There were an estimated 26,700 serious injuries in children under 16 in 2015.

  • Take a safety certification program such as the ATV RiderCourse available through atvsafety.org.
  • Ride an ATV that is appropriate for your age and size. Virginia law mandates riders under the age of 16 to ride ATVs with smaller engines.
  • Wear your gear! Approved helmet, eye protection, long pants and sleeves, ankle boots, and gloves all help prevent injury.
  • Only ride during daylight hours.
  • Ride only on unpaved and ATV approved trails, never the paved road unless to cross. More ATV fatalities occur on paved roads than not due to their inability to maneuver and high probability to roll over.
  • Inspect your ATV for tire damage, secure cable connections, and worn links in the chain before you ride.
  • One rider per ATV.
  • Never operate while drinking alcohol or using drugs.
  • Don’t go alone! Ride with a buddy or two to increase safety and reduce your risk of injury.
  • Take a break! ATV riding is hard and can cause fatigue, increasing your chance of accident or injury.

ATV riding can be fun and exciting but must be treated with the utmost concern for safety. Always be aware of the dangers with the operation of an ATV to keep you and your families safe this summer. Should an accident occur, dial 9-1-1 immediately. If safe, keep the rider in the position they were found in case of neck or spine injury.


Inova provides trauma and emergency services throughout Northern Virginia

Leave a Comment