According to Wilmington, North Carolina police department, a driver of an ATV died while colliding into a truck. WECT News Channel 6 reported that Ronny Paul Ballard, 32, was on an ATV when it collided with the truck. The accident occurred on Shipyard Boulevard near the intersection of Carolina Beach Road. Ballard was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he later would die.
It has been nearly 20 years since the federal government declared ATVs an “imminent hazard”. By public outcry and political pressure, manufacturers were forced to drop unstable three-wheel models in favor of the four-wheelers in today’s ATV market. Regulators were able to make the entire industry to adopt safety warnings as well as offer rider training in an effort to stem off the rising death rates from riding such vehicles.
Federal officials have fallen down on the job since then and have done little more than count the dead as proven by grim body counts in most states. Over the past decade, ATVs have become immensely popular with almost 8 million in use. With this popularity has come record numbers of riders in emergency rooms and morgues. In 2002, ATV crashes resulted in 357 fatalities and 113,900 injured riders with the fatalities up by 67 percent from 1997. The number of injured riders more than doubled in the same time period. A grim statistic that you won’t hear from ATV manufacturers is that 25% of the dead and nearly a 33% of the injured are children. While the death rates of youth using these vehicles has spiked in the U.S., the industry insists voluntary safety standards that are already in place are working.
It is ironic that as ATV companies have added new features such as four-wheel drive and power steering to allure more buyers, they haven’t resolved the primary safety issue: overturns. They flip over with terrible regularity and in the process smash faces, break necks and crush chests. ATV manufacturers like Honda, Polaris, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Bombardier and Arctic Cat all insist that their machines are stable and safe if operated properly.
Faulting naïve riders for accidents, Honda’s safety slogan is “stupid hurts”. Although reckless driving can be blamed in some instances, the federal government has not done any real testing of safety on ATVs since the early 1990’s. It is clear that as casualties continue to spike in ATV related accidents that there is a growing list of concerned trauma surgeons, pediatricians, public health officials, consumer advocates and bereaved parents who are demanding action for improved safety regulations and changes for these dangerous vehicles.