Causes of ATV Accidents
All-terrain vehicles or “ATVs” are used recreationally and can be enjoyed on a vacation. More commonly, farmers, farm laborers, and ranchers must use ATVs to maintain their land, crops, and animals. On open country roads, it may appear safe to drive ATVs almost anywhere, but this is not entirely the case. Sadly, most ATV accidents involve children, who account for 27% of the injuries despite being only 15% of the total ATV drivers who are part of these crashes.
ATV-related injuries often involve disputes about who is at fault. Damages rarely result from a natural disaster affecting an ATV’s ability to function. Nineteen states do not have any legal requirements mandating helmets for ATV riders, and 22 states haven’t legally instilled a minimum age requirements for drivers. It’s no surprise, then, that the average age of ATV drivers is almost 13 years old. Texas has clearer laws regarding where one can drive an ATV, the speed limit at which it can be operated, and the minimum age required to drive one.
ATV Laws in Texas: How to Prevent Causes of ATV Accidents
ATVs are, for the most part, not permitted on roads in Texas. If ATVs are necessary on Texas roads, such as highways or city streets, the all-terrain vehicle must have an orange flag on top of an eight-foot pole attached to its back. The ATV driver must have a valid driver’s license on them, and all taillights and headlights must also be on while the vehicle is in motion. It is common for operators not to have these precautions in place, putting themselves and others at risk of an accident. You can view the list of ATV Texas laws here or read the laws that impact drivers the most below:
- To operate an ATV or UTV in a public place off-road, you must possess and carry a safety certificate issued by either Texas or another state.
- Children under the age of 14 cannot operate an ATV or UTV unless under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult authorized by the parent or guardian.
- ATVs are not allowed on public roads except for those operators who are farmers or ranchers traveling less than 25 miles, public utility workers, or law enforcement officers.
- You cannot drive an ATV or UTV in a reckless or careless manner that endangers, injures, or damages any person or property.
- You cannot carry a passenger in an ATV or UTV unless the vehicle is designed by the manufacturer to transport another individual.
- Cross-country driving an ATV or UTV for any reason is not permitted.
- Texas law requires ATV drivers to take motorcycle training.
ATV Equipment Requirements in Texas
- A working muffler
- A brake system that works
- Working headlights and taillights
- A USFS-qualified spark arrester
- The Off-Highway Vehicle decal, which is issued by the State Parks and Wildlife Department
Common Causes of ATV Accidents
Did you know that for the first month of driving an ATV, an inexperienced driver is 13 times more likely to get into an accident? Compare this to car accidents where newer (mostly younger) drivers are only four time more likely to get into an accident. In addition to youth, the following are more common causes or contributing factors to ATV accidents:
- Driving an ATV on pavement. ATVs are designed for off-road driving, so it makes sense that these vehicles do not perform as well on pavement.
- Riding double on an ATV.
- Having an inexperienced operator drive an ATV.
- Unsupervised children or first-time drivers.
- Failure to obey state ATV driving laws.
- Driving in unfamiliar terrain.
- General reckless driving. Though an ATV can accomplish stunts and fancy maneuvers that normal vehicles cannot, attempting these stunts can result in a flipped vehicle, injury to the driver, a passenger, or a bystander, or worse.
The biggest consequence of reckless ATV driving is fatal injury to a bystander, the operator driving the ATV, and/or a passenger. Every case is unique and requires the thorough evaluation of many details of the incident, such as whether drugs or alcohol were involved, if there was a damaged pathway, or if there was a visibility issue due to weather.
ATV Accident Lawyers
ATV accidents are commonly caused by lack of training and the lack of knowledge of how to operate the vehicle in different types of rough terrain. This results in personal injury ATV accidents rather than just damaged property. If you or someone you know has been injured on an ATV while driving on a damaged trail, you could be looking at a premises liability case. It’s also possible that equipment failure on the ATV, such as a defective brake system, can cause serious injury to an individual. This could create a viable cause of action against the ATV manufacturer.
If you or someone you know were injured in an ATV accident, our experienced trial lawyers are here to help. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation about your ATV incident.