ATV as Babysitter?

ATV as Babysitter?


I had the opportunity to chat with one of the Rangers in one of the prominent National Forests here in Utah. One of the points he mentioned to me is worthy of sharing with you here.

Of the many serious challenges our forest managers have, the most difficult to understand, is when parents allow children to go off on their own unsupervised with their ATVs (or motorcycles). It is a symptom of the greater issue of the need for appropriate training. Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to understand or care about the laws of safety and reasonable common sense.

A study was published in the American Journal of Pediatrics that pointed out the dangers of children using ATVs. An editor of one of the local television stations used this report as proof that children under the age of 12 should not be allowed to drive ATVs. The station urged the Utah Legislature to change the legal ATV age driving limit to 12.

In my opinion the editor’s concern was misplaced. If they want to protect the children of Utah they should encourage training and parental supervision. By raising the age of legally allowed use of the ATV all they would be doing is: 1.) Eliminating the training opportunity for children between the age of eight (8) and twelve (12); and 2.) Criminalizing parents who want to engage in a wholesome family activity.

The truth is, the present statutes are adequate. According to the Utah State Parks and Recreation web site: “Adults should accompany and supervise drivers between the ages of eight and 15 at all times.”

The Ranger I spoke with regrets spoiling a perfectly beautiful afternoon in the forest by apprehending youthful ATV enthusiasts who stray from their parents’ supervision. Yet, as a means of being a responsible parent himself, he will take the time to train and educate the parents on the dangers of unsupervised ATV use, as he writes up the reckless endangerment citation for the parent.

I have also seen serious dangerous activities conducted by unsupervised underage youth. They are documented adequately in other locations on this web site.

Here’s the bottom line. Allowing children under 16 to venture off on their own is not legal. The most serious accidents in this age group typically occur when these youth are not supervised by a parent or guardian. Forget the accidents, you know how easy it is to become disoriented or lost out in the forest and you are not a child. These are the facts. Now do you want the law makers to legislate away the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with our children, or do you want to accept the responsibility to train your children and supervise them in their use of the ATV. The choice is up to you.

Please keep in mind. The ATV is not a Baby Sitter. If you allow your under age child to venture off on their own with an ATV it is just as though you allowed them to go play in the road, literally! Now would you do that? I certainly hope not.

Safety is what comes at the conclusion of preparation, planning, education, training, and continued supervision.

Categories: ATV Safety

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*