ATV Wrecks ... Learn the Leading Causes in this Exclusive New Report.

Riding ATVs is supposed to be fun. But unfortunately, ATV wrecks can put a damper on that fun in short order. That's why we want to bring you this latest report detailing the leading causes of 4 wheeler crashes. And more importantly, how to avoid them.

The video below shows one of the leading causes of four wheeler crashes. Lack of experience and lack of formal rider training.

Like a lot of people, I imagine this cub reporter thought she could handle more than she actually could. At least she was wearing proper riding gear, which kept this from being a tragedy, and less of a public relations nightmare than it was. Not exactly the kind of publicity we need.

A lot of these first time rider incidents aren't a laughing matter and have much sadder endings. I think being aware of the risks and doing something to minimize them is the first giant step to keeping your ATV riding on the fun side of the meter. So let's see what to look out for.

Leading Causes of ATV Wrecks

  • Inexperience - Like the reporter in the video, riders with less than a month of experience have injury rates 13 times higher than those with more riding time under their belts. Those with less than a year of experience accounted for almost half of all injured riders. Over a fourth of all injuries happened to riders with less than a month of riding experience. If you still think training and experience aren't important - you must be skinny dippin' in the stupid gene pool. And the fact that many of these injuries happen to kids under 16 confirms my belief that parents should have to pass some sort of test before they're allowed to reproduce.

  • Lack of formal training - Having no qualified hands on training demonstrating the right way to ride on ATV. Experience alone isn't always enough. You need some formal instruction in the correct way to ride. Years of experience doing it the wrong way is almost as bad as none at all. Check with your local ATV dealers or riding clubs for rider training available near you. Even if you've been riding more than a year, I guarantee you'll learn something you didn't know

  • Rider impairment - Recent studies estimate that nearly 30% of all ATV wrecks involve alcohol and/or drugs. This has to be the most preventable of all reasons to crash. It also goes a long way towards convincing the general public that we're all a bunch of irresponsible idiots. Please don't involve yourself in this brand of stupidity.

  • Excessive speed for conditions - I admit it, I like to go fast. But I have learned that going fast in the wrong place at the wrong time will land you in a world of hurt. Too many 4 wheeler wrecks happen on public roads. A vehicle designed for off road use, a high center of gravity, and low pressure off road tires, are not a good combination for high speed travel. As a matter of fact, going fast in any unfamiliar situation is a great way to meet the nice people at the nearest emergency room. I remember discovering a 6 foot deep bomb crater in the middle of what I thought was a wide open, level field! And that's just one of many similar stories we don't have time for here.

  • Unbalanced loads - The vast majority of these are caused by carrying a passenger on an ATV not designed to do so. The extra weight on the rear severely reduces the ability to steer. And increases the risk of a rollover. The leading cause of fatalities in ATV wrecks. I know everybody thinks they can get away with this. Just watch the video again to see how little time and space it takes to get in trouble. Overloading the racks on either end of the machine can be just as bad or worse, than carrying a passenger. OSHA has several accident reports on file caused by this very thing. Wearing a helmet and other protection will help to minimize injuries in a crash. But I'd much rather not crash in the first place.

  • Modifications - The major manufacturers spend big bucks engineering the ATVs they sell. When you modify the suspension, change wheels and tires, add power, etc., it may adversely effect the handling of your four wheeler. It's a good idea to consult with the manufacturer before you start bolting stuff on or taking it off.

  • Improper maintenance - Statistics show that many owners have never read their operators manuals. So how would they know what proper maintenance was and when it was needed? They wouldn't. Lack of regular maintenance has been shown to be a contributing factor in atv wrecks and fatalities. When you "ride 'em hard and put 'em up wet", you're increasing your chances of a crash. At a minimum, the condition of tires, brakes, steering, and suspension should be checked before every ride.

  • Poor judgment - Pretty much a factor in most ATV wrecks. Inexperience just multiplies the problem because you don't even know what you don't know. The decision not to get training, to drink or do drugs, to ride past your or the ATVs capabilities, to carry a passenger, or to skimp on maintenance are all examples of poor judgment. But the poorest judgment of all? Parents who allow their kids to do any of the things we've talked about. Or worse, let them ride without supervision. I just finished a story in my local newspaper about the deaths of a 15 and 17 year old. They were riding toward each other on a public road shortly after midnight with no lights and no helmets. The resulting head-on collision killed both instantly. Where were the parents? Do you know where your kids are?

There may be a silver lining to all these reasons for ATV crashes. Fatality and injury numbers have improved in the last few years. But even one is too many and we all need to do our part, especially any time you see a new rider that needs some help.

Looking closely at the main causes of ATV wrecks, you can't help but notice that a majority of these are preventable. With almost 9 million ATVs in use, let's do our best to make this the fun, family sport it needs to be.

ATV Institute Rider Training.

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