Over 40,000 children injure themselves every year from riding all-terrain vehicles. Manufacturers want to appease parents concerns about this number, and the solution proposed; make children vehicles bigger and faster, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required)
The manufacturers believe if there was a larger, faster vehicle available for children above 14, then the teenagers would not switch to an adult vehicle so early. The article says 90% of the injuries occur while a kid rides an adult ATV, which can go faster than 70 miles per hour and weigh over 600 pounds. The kids are not ready for the size of the machine which leads to crashes. This opens the door for the “Y-14 model.” It has a top speed of 38 mph and weighs less than 500 lbs.
Parent groups deplore the idea because they don’t see how going faster will protect the riders. I am the opposite. I think it is a great idea, but they need to make the machine faster in order for it to work. The Y-14, which is almost 200lbs more than the Y-12 model, can only go 8 mph faster than the smaller version. If the manufacturers want the youth to use the Y-14, then they need to distinguish the models by more than just size.
The reason people of all ages ride ATVs is because they want to go fast, not to ride a heavier machine. It doesn’t make sense. If manufacturers want to develop this new machine, then go all the way with the plan and make it a true “transitional model.” Up the speed to about 45 mph. That way the 14 year-olds will feel like they are distinguishing themselves from the younger riders, but still riding at a reasonable speed for the children’s age.
This should draw them to the Y-14, and implement the plan the ATV manufacturers wish to achieve. Will this actually decrease injuries in an activity that will always result in some sort of injury, whether it is a bruise or a broken bone? Probably not, but the goal should be to reduce deaths, and major injuries. This solution seems the most realistic because it considers the youth’s demands, along with helping to solve the safety issue.