Honda built the first three-wheel all-terrain vehicle (ATV) in 1970. Also referred to as a quad bike or quad, these were popular right from the start. Low pressure tires, a straddled seat and handle bars seemed the perfect way to fly over terrain where street vehicles could never go.
It didn’t take long for accidents to begin happening with young fearless riders pushing speeds as high as 100 mph over unfamiliar land in an effort to see how many stunts they could perform. As a result, in the early 1980s, the suspension was improved and tires were made at a lower profile. Wrecks and injuries continued to mount so in 1987, three wheelers were no longer manufactured in an effort to provide more safety for quad bikes.
ATVs are not designed for street use and are even outlawed on public streets in Australia, Canada and the United States. They are designed strictly as use for a recreational vehicle although many have adopted the idea that they work rather well as farm vehicles. A quad bike is great for pulling a wagon full of dirt or parts, climbing through ditches or making quick trips to the field. Unfortunately, this is where many of the quad accidents occur.
From 1996 through 2006, there were twenty-three deaths and thousands of injuries from workers and joy riders alike that simply slid into situations where they could not control the ATV. Most accidents happen within thirty days of the driver ever operating their first quad and are under the age of eighteen years old. Although manufacturers provide training manuals and safety gear with most ATVs, they are not used and a lack of protection causes serious harm.
Ask Ozzy Osbourne about being careful on a four-wheeler, as he was involved in a bad quad bike accident in 2003. He sustained a broken collarbone, eight busted ribs and a damaged vertebra in his neck. Ozzy was not a young unseasoned driver but it goes to prove that even older individuals can easily lose control of a quad. A concert that Osbourne and his daughter had prepared and planned for had to be cancelled due to Ozzy’s physical mishap.
Over 70,000 quads fill our private properties and off road sites today, full of skilled and unskilled riders. Care still needs to be taken. Always wear protective gear, especially a helmet and do not take unnecessary chances just for the thrill of it. The profile tires have a higher center of gravity than a car and can throw you off course and into a tree in a matter of seconds. If you choose a quad to help with transportation around the farm or to use strictly as recreational, read and operate according to the manual and visit your local area’s website for any new regulations that may be taking place for ATVs. The Health and Safety Executive is talking of improving training and protection for these vehicles so it is best to make sure you are in compliance.