Off-Road Vehicle Accidents on the Rise

2011, the latest year for which statistics are available, was deadly in Arizona for off-road vehicle fatalities. When you put inexperienced operators with no safety training together with a vehicle capable of causing great harm and then operate it on dangerous terrain, it’s no wonder deadly accidents result.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona had 29 off-road vehicle fatalities in 2011. This was an increase of eight over the number in 2010. In addition, off-road vehicle accidents accounted for 1,611 emergency room visits and 409 hospitalizations in 2011.The evidence shows that the majority of off-road vehicle operators were:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Not wearing helmets or other safety equipment
  • Driving with little or no training or experience

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an inexperienced rider is 13 times more likely to have an accident in the first month of operating an off-road vehicle than an experienced rider.

To combat these dangers, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has begun offering an online off-road vehicle safety certification course. Their website also offers a directory of hands-on safety courses around the state. While such courses are not mandatory in Arizona, they are increasing in popularity and there is no doubt that they are useful.

It is the off-road vehicle owner’s responsibility to ensure that inexperienced operators receive proper instruction prior to operating the vehicle. Other tips to ensure safety are:

  • Don’t drive the vehicle on a paved service (they are designed for off-road use and they actually handle very poorly on a paved surface)
  • Don’t ride double — most vehicles are designed for only one rider
  • Let others know where you are when you ride
  • Do ride with adequate supervision
  • Don’t attempt dangerous stunts
  • Be especially careful in unfamiliar terrain

The bottom line is that these vehicles can provide a lot of enjoyment if operated safely and with proper training. To safely operate an off-road vehicle, take safety courses and learn the rules of safe operation. If you have been injured in an off-road vehicle crash, you should seek proper legal advice to determine your rights.

Here’s hoping for a safer off-road 2013.

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