Ontario is popular among those who ride off-road (ORV) and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) for recreational and travel purposes. These vehicles require special safety considerations. The most recent statistics available from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation report that in 2010, more than 358,000 ATVs were registered in the province. That year, a total of 435 drivers and passengers were injured or killed in off-road vehicle accidents.
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Below are five basic safety tips to help reduce the chances of an ATV accident:
1. Do Not Operate an ATV While Under the Influence
As with any high-powered, high-speed vehicle, alcohol and drugs seriously impair a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s statistics, alcohol was a factor in at least 28 percent of injury-causing and fatal ATV accidents in 2010.
An intoxicated driver who causes an accident and injuries may be subject to criminal and civil penalties.
2. Remain Up to Date on ATV Recalls and Other Safety News
Some accidents can be attributed to mechanical defects, recalls or other types of manufacturer negligence. Common manufacturing concerns may include poor vehicle design, defective tires and faulty brakes. Remain up to date on current safety recall and manufacturer information. This applies not only to the ATV itself, but also the tires, brakes and other components.
Manufacturer defects that result in accidents and injuries may be subject to product liability claims. A lawyer can explain the requirements in such a case further.
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3. Maintain Safe Speeds at All Times
Speeding was a factor in at least 19 percent of ATV accidents reported in 2010. Safety experts recommend drivers maintain reasonable speeds at all times and adjust speed according to weather, terrain, visibility and other obstacles. Driver experience also plays a significant role in speed. An inexperienced driver should avoid excessive speeds because she or he may not have the necessary skills or experience to navigate turns or elevation changes at fast speeds.
4. Take an ATV Safety Course
ATVs demand careful operation. A responsible driver should learn how to steer properly in a variety of terrains, ride up and down hills, safely handle turns, and the proper riding posture. A hands-on safety course should address these guidelines and many other safety tips.
A driver who fails to receive proper training may cause a serious or fatal accident. In those cases, the driver may be liable in a related injury claim.
5. Always Perform a Pre-Ride Safety Inspection
Conduct a pre-ride inspection before every outing. Assess tire air pressure and condition, ensuring all tires are properly inflated and free of tears or other imperfections. Ensure tire axle nuts are secure and not overly worn. Check that brakes are in top working condition and all other engine controls are in proper form. Other items to survey include headlights, brake lights and tool kit. Be sure to wear an approved helmet, goggles and other safety gear as precautionary measures.
If you have suffered injury in an ATV accident in Ontario call 1-800-JUSTICE® or use this online form to schedule a free initial consultation.