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As summer begins, prevent injuries and deaths by reviewing off-highway vehicle safety tips

RecalledTextronSpecializedVehiclesEZGOExpressTXT_0Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. One big safety issue for parents is the use of off-highway vehicles or OHVs by kids.

During 2023, the Consumer Federation of America documented 498 OHV fatalities. Children 15 years and younger accounted for 19 percent of all deaths. Children six years and under continue to make up a sizable portion of the OHV fatalities, and multiple children as young as three years old were killed last year while riding an OHV.

OHVs defined

The term off-highway vehicle includes all-terrain vehicles or ATVs, off-highway motorcycles or OHMs, and off-road vehicles or ORVs.

“Year after year, CFA has found that the percentage of children dying in OHV-related incidents is alarming,” Courtney Griffin, CFA’s director of consumer product safety, said in a statement. “It is devastating to see toddlers included in this statistic.”

Where most deaths occur

OHV fatalities occur mostly on roads, according to the 2023 fatality data, with 67 percent of the deaths taking place there. Industry groups opposed the use of OHVs, including ATVs, on roads because the vehicles aren’t designed, manufactured, or intended for use on public streets, roads, or highways. 

Roadway crashes are more likely to involve multiple fatalities, collisions, and head injuries, Griffin said. Victims in roadway crashes are less likely to wear protective gear, such as helmets, and were more likely to be carrying passengers, both things that are risk factors for ATV-related fatalities and injuries.

HOV injury and death prevention

The CFA urges consumers to take the following steps to reduce OHV deaths and injuries:

  • Never operate an OHV on a road.
  • Never permit children younger than 16-years-old to operate an adult-size OHV or any OHV that is too large or too powerful for them.
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear when riding an OHV.
  • Always wear seatbelts when riding an OHV that contains them.
  • Never allow more people on an OHV than it was designed to carry.
  • Never ride when under the influence.
  • Take a hands-on safety course.

Prevent Child Injury, an injury prevention organization, offers an ATV safety toolkit aimed at helping parents learn about the risks of children using ATVs. If consumers have experienced an incident or injury involving an OHV, reports can be submitted to the CPSC at

OHV fatality data is available on the CFA’s website.

A call to ban adult-size ATVs for kids

The CFA has petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban adult-size ATVs for children and urged the CPSC to collect annual recreational off highway vehicle data to take steps to reduce OHV deaths and injuries.

Thousands of OHVs recalled due to safety issues

Another safety issue with OHVs is recalls.

A CFA analysis of OHV recalls found that from January 2010 to July 14, 2023, there were 175 recalls, and the number of recalls each year has increased from two in 2010 to 21 in 2022.

In addition, the CFA found that 31 brands were involved in the recalls, and the brand with the most recalls – more than triple of the second brand – was Polaris. 

Consumer Product Safety Commission reports identified at least 86 injuries and two deaths linked to OHVs that were later recalled. Also, more than two million OHVs were estimated to be sold and later recalled.

The CFA identified patterns in the recalls. For example, in the time period analyzed, the cause of the most recalls was fire hazards.

Fire related hazards accounted for 70 recalls or 40  percent. The second most common hazard was throttle issues, which accounted for 23 of the 175 recalls, or 13 percent. The third most common hazard was steering related issues, which made up 22 recalls or 13 percent. These top hazards represent nearly three-quarters of hazards that led to recalls.

Injuries or deaths were involved in about one in five OHV recalls. Out of the 175 recalls analyzed, 37 recalls, 21.5 percent, involved at least one injury.

The most serious involved two deaths. In January 2017, the rollover of an OHV resulted in the death of a 14-year-old passenger. The OHV was later recalled because it didn’t have seatbelts. Another death occurred in April 2016 on an OHV that caught fire and then rolled over, resulting in the death of a 15-year-old passenger.

There were 86 injuries included in the recall notices, at least two severe.

For the 175 recalls analyzed, the CPSC estimates that 2,671,606 vehicles were sold before they were recalled. The recalls that involved the largest number of OHVs were a Textron recall, a Maxtrade recall, a Polaris recall, and an American Honda recall. The Textron E-Z-GO personal transportation vehicle recall included about 143,000 vehicles, in February 2023, and was due to the risk of the vehicle catching fire and involved the largest number of vehicles recalled during the period analyzed. See a photo of the Textron E-Z-GO above.

In its report, the CFA called on manufacturers to identify problems with OHVs before they enter the marketplace and pose risks to consumers.

It also said the CPSC needs to investigate why the number of OHV recalls are increasing and take steps, along with OHV manufacturers, to prevent tragedies from occurring and improve the safety of OHVs.


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Laurie Stone

So sad to think of children and young teens dying in these vehicles. They don't have the experience or reflexes yet to drive them.


Yes, parents need to protect their kids from OHV dangers.

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