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Avoiding an ATV Accident

Driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be a fun and exhilarating way to pass the time, especially in Arizona where there are plenty of ATV trails, motocross parks, and natural areas to explore. People in Arizona use ATVs for work as well, to keep track of farmland, livestock, and crops, and to go on hunting trips. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the proper safety precautions before hopping on an ATV, failing to realize the threats these vehicles can pose. Learn how to avoid an ATV accident to protect yourself and others from harm.

Common Causes of ATV Accidents

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 252 people have died from ATV accidents in Arizona between 1982 and 2011. Forty-five of these deaths were children under the age of 16. Children should never ride adult ATVs. Most people younger than 16 do not have the skills necessary to safely maneuver adult ATVs, which are more powerful than youth models. Always check an ATV’s label for its recommended age levels for drivers. Allowing children to drive adult ATVs is a common cause of fatal accidents.

Another common reason drivers crash ATVs is allowing passengers to ride on the back. The majority of ATVs are not designed to safely carry two people. Doing so can throw the balance of the ATV off and make it more difficult to maneuver. Carrying a passenger on the back of an ATV puts the driver and the rider at risk of serious or fatal injury. Drivers should never take ATVs onto paved roads. While these vehicles claim to be “all-terrain,” this does not include regular paved roads. ATVs lack the stability to drive on typical roadways.

On November 25, 2016, Phoenix Fire Department Captain Fitzmaurice passed away while driving a utility terrain vehicle (UTV), similar to an ATV. While an ATV is for one user, a UTV can fit two people in the cab side by side. Captain Fitzmaurice and his passenger were hunting in Northern Arizona in the UTV when it rolled over, landing on the Captain and pinned him to the ground. Medics pronounced Captain Fitzmaurice dead at the scene.

Rollover and flipping accidents are common hazards in ATVs and UTVs. In Captain Fitzmaurice’s case, he was traveling too fast for conditions, taking turns in the road at a dangerous speed. The UTV slid in the turns, and one tire struck a dirt bank on the side of the roadway. The vehicle then rolled over on the driver’s side, pinning the captain down and causing head trauma. Captain Fitzmaurice and his passenger were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Prevent Driver Error

Drivers can prevent tragedies such as the death of Captain Fitzmaurice with proper ATV/UTV safety. Like car accidents, the majority of ATV accidents stem from driver error. The best way to avoid an ATV accident is to be a knowledgeable, safe, and prudent driver. Here are a few basic tips for operating an ATV safely:

  • Read the manual on your ATV and ensure you fully understand how to operate the vehicle.
  • Take an ATV safety training course.
  • Stay up to date on ATV recalls or important news concerning manufacturer errors.
  • Never drive an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Maintain a safe speed for conditions.
  • Inspect your ATV for issues before riding.
  • Always wear a safety helmet and other protective gear.
  • Bring a communication device with you in case of emergencies.
  • Wear a safety belt while ATVing if available.

Prevent injuries to yourself and others by operating your ATV or UTV safely and in accordance with the vehicle’s manual. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence while riding and ATV, call the Phoenix ATV injury attorneys at Cullan & Cullan at (602) 900-9483.


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