Editorial: Is ATV information best safety device? | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: Is ATV information best safety device?

1623492_web1_web-atv

It’s not against the law for a child to drive an all-terrain vehicle. It’s not against the law for a child to ride on one either.

But is it always a good idea?

On Thursday, Annabel Whittingham, 5, of Fox Chapel was on an ATV in her yard with her dad and her sister. It was the kind of thing that kids might do every day.

Then something went wrong. The ATV sped up. It lurched over a hill, and crashed. Annabel died.

ATVs are not transportation. They are recreation, and if ATV fun is normal, so are crashes. Injuries and deaths are all too common. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, about 10 to 20 children die every year in ATV crashes.

Like a surfboard or downhill skis, the danger is not a glitch that needs to be designed out. The danger is the thrill. It’s the sharp drop on the roller coaster or the sudden shock in a horror movie. The fun comes from the bounce and the jolt. If you wanted a smooth ride, you would be on asphalt.

But what is fun for an adult should be approached with caution for a child. Toddlers don’t surf shark-infested waters or ski black-diamond slopes. Kids must be so tall to ride the roller coaster. Slasher films are rated R for a reason.

Cars are regulated, too. That safe, smooth car ride demands children be buckled in the back seat, and restrained in a booster until height, weight and age requirements are met.

There are regulations that govern how kids may ride or drive ATVs, but not prohibitions. One such regulation restricts underage operators to private property owned or leased by family. That is no doubt cold comfort to family members who lose a child to an ATV crash at home.

The state does demand a safety certificate or safety training course for operators under 16 to drive elsewhere, and kids under 8 aren’t able to take that class at all.

Maybe what would be helpful is a safety class for parents or family members who would operate an ATV with children, so they can make informed decisions about kids’ safety, much the same way a hospital will review things like shaken baby syndrome and car seats with parents before they take their infant home.

It is not against the law to have a kid on an ATV. But they aren’t toys — and good information is always a good idea.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.