ATV Tires and Tire Failures
Unsafe ATV operation is not the only safety concern that ATV enthusiasts must be aware of. ATV riders need to know that serious injury or death may result from ATV tire failure or loss of control due to incorrect tire inflation pressure. ATV tires can even explode if the tire and rim assembly are improperly mounted. ATV manufacturers have cautioned riders to operate their ATVs at low speed over level terrain with no passengers, but few riders are aware that something as simple as proper tire pressure can help to avoid a serious ATV rollover accident.
ATV Accidents, ATV Rollovers and ATV Safety
There is an ongoing debate concerning the safety of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs for short. Nearly 20 years ago, the federal government declared ATVs an "imminent hazard" and forced manufacturers to drop unstable three-wheel models in favor of the four-wheelers sold today. Four-wheelers, or quads, are much more stable compared to three-wheelers, but are they stable enough?
ATVs have a narrow track width and high ground clearance, necessary qualities that allow them to travel on rough terrain and narrow trails. A narrow track width and a higher center of gravity, however, are the same qualities that made SUVs far less stable than cars and prone to rollover accidents. When a vehicle rolls over, whether a SUV or ATV, the odds of being seriously injured or killed increase dramatically.
Over the past decade, ATVs have soared in popularity with over 7.6 million now in use. ATV accidents have also increased and kill approximately 800 people a year and injure an estimated 136,700 more.
Regulators have compelled the ATV industry to adopt safety warnings and offer rider training classes to stem the accidents, but little more.
"This is one of the worst examples ever of a government agency failing in its fundamental mission to protect the American public," Stuart M. Statler, a former U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission member, said of the agency's inability to significantly reduce ATV deaths and injuries during the past two decades.
Statler never imagined, when he helped lead the crackdown on ATVs in the 1980s, that deaths might someday surpass 1,000. Now, nearly 8,000 people have died in ATV crashes since the commission began counting, and 2 million have been seriously hurt.
Safety risks haven't dented the allure of ATVs. Over the past decade, sales tripled to $5 billion a year as companies introduced bigger, faster models. Though companies have added new features such as four-wheel drive and power steering, they haven't eliminated a long-standing problem: overturns.
The machines flip over with punishing regularity -- smashing faces, breaking necks, crushing chests.
The major manufacturers -- Honda, Polaris, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Bombardier and Arctic Cat -- insist their machines are safe and stable if operated properly. They fault riders for accidents.
SOURCE: The Oregonian
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