ATV Safety

The overall number killed on ATV’s are similar to the number killed on bicycles. It begs the question, is it more dangerous to ride an ATV than it is a bicycle?

There isn’t any comparable usage data. There are a few clues; from the WSJ story “Even as the number of four-wheelers roughly doubled between 2000 and 2005, the estimated risk of death remained about one in 10,000.” Using the 870 number, that implies 8,700,000 ATVs (in use?). And in the AP story “Since 2004, sales of all-terrain vehicles have declined. Industry figures show that 912,000 of the vehicles were sold in the United States in 2004; 893,000 in 2005; 890,000 in 2006; and an estimated 759,000 last year”.

Bicycle sales are far larger. According to the NSGA (table on the NBDA site) sales of bikes 20″ wheelsize and above is around 12 million per year, if you count all bikes it runs something under 20 million per year.

So in terms of unit sales, Bicycles outnumber ATVs by at least 15 to one.

I can’t think of any way to compare usage rates, but i seriously doubt the average ATV is used 15X as much as the average bicycle — leaving the ATV with a higher fatality rate per amount of exposure. That would assume the unit sales are a proxy of the number in use, which could vary between bicycles and ATVs.

Injury numbers: “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 600,000 persons suffered bicycle-related injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment in 1994”. Versus, from one of the ATV articles “Aside from deaths, the CPSC estimates that the total number of ATV-related injuries in 2006 is 146,600”. If these numbers are comparable, then, ATV wrecks have a higher propensity toward fatality, compared to bicycles.

Bicycle usage data, taken from CPSC (1991?) Technical Report 344, Bike Use and Hazard Pattern, the exposure data was gathered for the CPSC by Abt Associates via a sampled survey.

“There are about 67 million bicyclists who ride a total of about 15 billion hours annually” “There are about 96 million bicycles in existence, but only about 66 million (69 percent)
were used in the year prior to the survey (This estimate is considerably less than the National Safety Council’s estimate of 105 million bicycles in use in 1991)” There were 8.8 injuries per thousand riders, and 37.2 injuries per million hours of use (all ages combined).

15 billion exposure hours divides out to about .06 fatalites per million hours of exposure, which is significantly better than the oft-quoted Failure Analysis Associates numbers.(? perhaps the 15 billion number was reduced to reflect road-use exposure, as opposed to, say, playground use)

1 in 5 Killed in ATV Wrecks Are Children

By JENNIFER C. KERR; The Associated Press, February 14, 2008
“The signs are pointing to a very dangerous trend into more than 800 deaths per year,” said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. The agency is still gathering data as far back as 2003. The report updates CPSC data with numbers from 2006, the latest year that agency staff have analyzed.

In 2005, there were 666 confirmed deaths related to ATVs, and CPSC estimates that the toll for that year could reach 870.

Since 2004, sales of all-terrain vehicles have declined. Industry figures show that 912,000 of the vehicles were sold in the United States in 2004; 893,000 in 2005; 890,000 in 2006; and an estimated 759,000 last year.

Rise in ATV-Accident Deaths
Intensifies Debate Over Safety
By CHRISTOPHER CONKEY
February 15, 2008; Page A12

Deaths in all-terrain-vehicle accidents are on the rise, a trend that is exacerbating tensions over pending safety regulations as the popularity of the four-wheeled vehicles surges.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday estimated that 870 people died in ATV wrecks in 2005, up from 860 in 2004 and 606 in 2002. The death toll likely will increase as more reports are confirmed.

Medical groups and consumer activists seized on these figures to support their push for stricter ATV regulations, particularly those aimed at children under age 16, who sustained nearly 30% of serious ATV-related injuries in 2006.

“How much more proof do we need that children under 16 don’t belong on ATVs,” said RenĂ©e Jenkins, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Like many safety advocates, Ms. Jenkins scolded the CPSC for putting more emphasis on training youth riders rather than restricting their ability to operate four-wheelers.

Yet the CPSC data also provided some ammunition for ATV manufacturers, who maintain their products are inherently safe. Deaths are rising because the overall use of ATVs is increasing, but the risk of death has remained the same, the report said. Even as the number of four-wheelers roughly doubled between 2000 and 2005, the estimated risk of death remained about one in 10,000.

The report also found that injuries to children under 16 are decreasing from recent highs.

“This continued downward trend is encouraging and again shows that the commitment…to rider education, parental supervision and state legislation is working,” said Paul Vitrano, executive vice president of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, a trade group.

Meanwhile, results from a separate CPSC study on youth fatalities will feed a debate over whether manufacturers can produce larger youth models targeted at teenagers. The study found that speed and collisions were bigger factors than rollovers.

Last year, manufacturers adopted new standards paving the way for a new class of “transitional” ATVs for 14- to 15-year-olds that can travel as fast as 38 miles per hour, above the cap of 30 mph. Consumer groups object to rolling out more powerful ATVs for teenagers, and the staff of the CPSC has been cool to this approach, as well.