Kids and All Terrain Vehicles

Do kids really need to ride an ATV?  The kid in question obviously has to be old enough to be responsible enough to drive the thing.  No matter who is driving it an all terrain vehicle is ultimately defined as heavy machinery. To operate heavy machinery your kid must have great reflexes, good eyesight, good coordination and a rudimental understanding of the laws of gravity and mechanics.

A kid that does not understand gravity is not a good candidate to drive an ATV. Neither is a kid that has poor judgment, poor eyesight or is on some kind of medication that might affect coordination or judgment. For instance, it is probably not a good idea for a kid on Ritalin for ADD to be riding an ATV. 

If you are going to let your kid drive an ATV make sure that he or she takes a safety class first and wears protective gear such as helmets an goggles. Also be sure that they are fully clothed and not wearing shorts or short-sleeved shirts to help protect their legs. If you are not sure where to find safety programs for young ATV drivers then you can try phoning your local youth groups. In the United States it is very common for 4_H groups to offer programs in all terrain vehicle safety. These programs, which are also for adults by the way, cover such topics as proper gear, riding techniques and the rules of the road. If anything the idea that you must wear a helmet will be ingrained into your child's head by taking one of these courses.  Not wearing a helmet is not advised as all terrain vehicle accidents are responsible for all kinds of serious brain injuries that take place in the United States and Canada. 

If you are not sure where to turn in terms of educating your child when it comes to kids atv safety, try phoning your local chapter of 4H. They conduct workshops with both children and adults that cover such topics as proper gear, the rules of the road and riding techniques.

If your child is insistent on riding an ATV then try to buy one that is designed for an adolescent. It will be lighter and smaller and easier for your child to handle. You should also advise your child to ride solo as many ATVs are just not equipped to handle two people.  Of course, as in any situation, you should also warn your children never to pick up a stranger trying to hitch a ride on the ATV. 

To stay safe, kids who ride ATVs are also well advised to stay off paved roads and highways and operate the machine on trails designed for ATVs. However you should discourage your child from riding on the shoulder of the road or beside a ditch as there is danger the vehicle could turn over.