Four-Wheelin’ Fun Requires Safety First

February 25, 2013, by The Lawrence Law Group

A Jacksonville man was found critically injured last night due to an all-terrain vehicle accident. The man suffered a significant injury after hitting his head on the gravel beside Boney Road in Oceanway, Florida. He was not wearing a helmet and was rushed to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center where he remains in critical condition.

All-terrain vehicle accidents are not uncommon in Jacksonville, where many people enjoy riding them off-road in rural areas. Unfortunately,some people ride their all-terrain vehicles on paved roadways, which is not only dangerous, but against the law.

This past December, a Jacksonville woman died in an ATV accident while riding as a passenger behind her husband. The accident occurred on a paved road -- Southeast 62nd Drive in Macclenny, Florida. Her husband over-corrected while approaching a curve, causing the woman to fall off the vehicle and strike her head on the pavement. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Neither the man nor the woman was wearing a helmet.

All-terrain vehicles have become increasingly popular, with more than 11 million currently in use nationwide. June and July typically have the highest number of ATV accidents, most likely because the warm weather summer months lend themselves to outdoor recreation. Every year in our country, 700 people die and 136,000 go to the emergency room because of all-terrain vehicle related personal injuries, according to an NBC News report.

Even more alarming is the number of children hurt in all-terrain vehicle accidents. Children under 16 account for 27 percent of all ATV related deaths. During the last 10 years, the number of children hospitalized due to ATV related injuries increased by 109 percent, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In fact, all-terrain vehicles have the highest risk of injuries compared to many other sports, including snowboarding, wrestling, football, basketball and skateboarding.

Taking the necessary precautions and following laws pertaining to ATVs can make your experience safer. Riders under 16 must wear a helmet and eye protection at all times. Even if you are older than 16, it is a good idea to wear a helmet. Other important rules to follow include:

- Do not ride with a passenger.
- Never ride on a paved road.
- Observe and follow the manufacturer’s minimum age requirements for operation (usually listed on the vehicle).

There are a number of riding trails designed for ATVs throughout Florida, some just 40 minutes from Jacksonville. Find a complete list of these scenic trails at TrailSource.com. Another site listing all-terrain vehicle trails in Florida is ATVFlorida.com. In addition, ATV Safety Training Courses are available throughout Florida.

All riders 6-15 years of age must have a Florida Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Certificate and be supervised by an adult. Go to the Florida Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation website to sign up for the course, which includes pre-ride inspection, starting and stopping, quick turns, hill riding, emergency stopping and swerving and riding over obstacles. You'll also learn about protective gear and local regulations.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident, contact our Jacksonville personal injury attorneys. We can provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation. We are happy to meet with you at a location convenient to you.