The University of Alberta (UofA) is warning ATV users about reckless driving and emphasized a number of safety tips for drivers to follow.
Dr. Bill Sevcik serves as chair of the UofA’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Having grown up on a ranch, Sevick knows the appeal of ATVs but also warns of the potential risk.
“The thing that makes ATVs dangerous, first of all, is the word ‘all-terrain vehicle,’ so people think they can drive them on all terrain and that’s just not the case,” he said. “They have a very high centre of gravity, they’re heavy, they have these bouncy tires and they’re prone to tip.”
According to the UofA, 14 people die in Alberta each year while quading, while over 700 are admitted to a hospital and over 5,500 go to emergency departments for treatment.
Of the 83 people who died between 2002 and 2013 due to a quad rollover, 35 per cent died from head or neck injuries, 14 per cent suffocated, 10 per cent died from chest injuries, 10 per cent died from multiple injuries, 9 per cent died from blunt force injuries and 3 per cent drowned after rolling the quad in water.
Meanwhile, alcohol was found in the blood of 55 per cent of the drivers who died quading, while eight out of 10 people who died of head injuries weren’t wearing a helmet.
Sevick stated that he saw three-to-four ATV-related injuries over the May long weekend.
“If you’re going to be on an ATV, you should always be wearing a helmet and full-safety equipment,” Sevcik said. “You should not be impaired—alcohol, drugs, nothing. It should be daylight hours, it’s ideal to be with somebody else in case something happens and you have to be big enough and have enough motor development that you can actually handle these machines safely and effectively.”
Riders should also take a safety source and not drive with a passenger on standard four-wheel ATVs. Those wishing to safely take a passenger can use a side-by-side.
Sevick explained that ATVs are popular in provinces with rural areas and disposable income, making Alberta a hotbed of ATV activity, although Sevick noted that riders had been more prevalent before the economic slump.
He noted how a lack of government-enforced rules about ATV safety, especially in Alberta, likely contributes to ATV injuries. He also emphasized the need for parental supervision.
“They are a utility vehicle that can get you to places than other things can,” Sevick said. “But once again, they go fast, the name implies it can go anywhere and they are a lot of fun to be on but things happen very quickly.”