July 4 is deadliest day to drive an off-road vehicle, group warns

Riders of off-highway vehicles are more susceptible to fatal accidents in July than any other time of year, the Consumer Federation of America says. (Photo by Kianna Gardner/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Fun is the focus of Fourth of July festivities, but the Consumer Federation of America reminds that July 4 is the deadliest day for drivers of ATVs, quads and other types of off-highway vehicles.

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The federation’s OHV Safety Coalition has analyzed fatalities involving off-highway vehicles (OHVs) from 2013 through 2017. In that span, more than 3,000 deaths were reported, with 417 occurring in July. Of those 417 deaths, the federation said, 65 percent occurred on-road, 30 percent off-road and 4 percent in an unknown location. July 4 was the deadliest day of the deadliest month, the federation said.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs), recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and utility-task vehicles (UTVs) are all considered off-highway vehicles, according to the foundation. It relied on news reports, government data and OHV Safety Coalition documents.

“OHVs are not designed for on-road use, and yet our data shows that of those fatalities that occurred in July, during the time period we studied, 65 percent occurred on-road,” said Rachel Weintraub, the foundation’s legislative director and general counsel.

In addition to having the necessary skills to operate an OHV, she said, riders “should use appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets.”

The foundation urges riders to follow these six steps to reduce deaths and injuries:
● Never operate an OHV on a paved road;
● Never permit children younger than 16 years old to operate an adult-size OHV or any OHV that’s too large and powerful for them;
● Always wear a helmet and other protective gear when riding an OHV;
● Always wear safety belts when available;
● Never allow more people on an OHV than it was designed to carry;
● Never ride when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
● Take a hands-on safety course.

For more information, go to Consumer Federation of America.

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