More ATVs spur more Illinois serious injuries, advocates say

While there are not many all-terrain vehicles traveling on Chicago, Illinois, roads, once the weather gets warmer, it becomes conducive again to ride recreational vehicles on many rural Illinois roads. Unfortunately, any increase in ATVs sharing the road with automobiles can mean additional recreational accidents, which can lead to Illinois serious injuries and fatalities.

Since 2012, many states, including Illinois, have considered or approved laws allowing ATVs to be used on more roads rather than designated trails. That is despite manufacturers’ warnings that ATVs are for recreational and other specific purposes, not transporting people on public roads.

Recreational vehicles, such as golf carts and ATVs, have high centers of gravity and low-pressure tires that can make it easier for the vehicle to tip over on an uneven surface. Additionally, ATVs do not have enough protection, which increases the chances of serious injuries during crashes. Moreover, although ATVs can reach highway speeds, these vehicles do not meet the same federal safety regulations that cars do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains vigilance on road safety, while the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates ATVs. The problem is that these federal agencies do not have the authority to tell riders where they can and cannot use their ATVs. CPSC has been working on improving the design of ATVs to improve rider safety, but there is still no word on when any changes would be approved and implemented.

Every year, ATV accidents injure 100,000 people and kill at least 700 others — nearly two-thirds of the fatalities occurring on public or private roads. Safety advocates fear that opening more roads to all-terrain vehicles can result in a surge in ATV-related injuries, such as head, neck, brain and spinal injuries, or death.

The death of a loved one from an avoidable recreational accident can be overwhelming and costly. Fortunately, the victim’s family can choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party in order to seek compensation.

Source: Sun Herald, “Despite deaths, efforts to open roads to ATVs making headway,” Bridget Huber, Mar. 22, 2014