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On-road all-terrain vehicle (ATV) fatalities in the United States

Williams, Allan F.; Oesch, Stephen L.; McCartt, Anne T.; Teoh, Eric R.; Sims, Laurel B.
Journal of Safety Research
September 2014

Background: The study was designed to describe the characteristics of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rider fatalities and fatal crashes involving ATVs that occur on public roads.
Methods: Information on fatal crashes occurring on public roads during the years 2007–2011 was obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Results: There were 1,701 ATV rider deaths during the 5-year study period, including 1,482 drivers, 210 passengers, and 9 with unknown rider status. An additional 19 non-ATV occupants, primarily motorcyclists, died in crashes with ATVs. About half of the ATV passenger deaths were teenagers or younger, and the majority of passenger deaths were female. Ninety percent of the fatally injured drivers were 16 or older, and 90% were male. The crashes were most likely to occur in relatively rural states, and in rural areas within states. Only 13% of drivers and 6% of passengers killed wore helmets. Forty-three percent of the fatally injured drivers had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.08% or greater. Seventy-five percent of the fatal crashes involved single ATVs; 5% involved multiple ATVs but no non-ATV vehicles, and 20% involved ATVs and non-ATVs, usually passenger vehicles. Speeding was reported by police as a contributing factor in the crash for 42% of ATV drivers in single-vehicle crashes and 19% of ATV drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes.
Practical applications: Although ATVs are designed exclusively for off-road use, many ATV occupant deaths occur on roads, despite most states having laws prohibiting many types of on-road use. Attention needs to be given to ways to reduce these deaths.