Washington, D.C. July 1, 2019 – As summer begins, and as the July 4th holiday approaches, Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is issuing an alert to off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders to operate their vehicles with caution. OHVs are comprised of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and utility task vehicles (UTVs). According to data gathered by CFA and its OHV Safety Coalition, from 2013 through 2018, July is the month with the most OHV fatalities and May and August follow as the second and third months with the most deaths. The day with the highest number of fatalities is July 4th. Even more troubling, July 4th is also the day of the year with the most fatalities of children aged 16 or younger.

CFA and its OHV Safety Coalition have been documenting OHV deaths since 2013 by compiling, analyzing, and publicizing available data and findings from relevant newspaper and government resources. From 2013 through 2018, CFA and the OHV Safety Coalition documented over 450 deaths during the month of July. For the entire time period, CFA has documented over 3,400 deaths. While these numbers are high, these findings are not yet complete and the number of deaths will likely increase as additional information becomes available.

The chart below shows that from 2013-2018, OHV fatalities peaked during the month of July, with 472 fatalities. OHV fatalities are also broken into three categories: on-road fatalities, off-road fatalities, and fatalities that occurred in an unknown location. Of the 472 fatalities that occurred in July, 305 (65%) occurred on-road, 142 (30%) occurred off-road, and 25 (5%) occurred in an unknown location.

In total, from 2013-2018, CFA documented 3,487 deaths. Of those deaths, 2,157 (62%) occurred on-road, 1,164 (33%) occurred off-road, and 166 (5%) occurred in an unknown location.

CFA data from 2013 through 2018 shows that the most fatalities for all people, children 16 and under, and adults, occurred on July 4th. Of the 46 recorded deaths on July 4th between 2013-2018, 11 were children aged 16 or younger (24%). On no other day of the year were there double digit deaths for children age 16 or younger. Additionally, of the 25 days of the year with five or more deaths of children 16 or younger, seven days were in the month of July (28%). On average, 18% of fatalities recorded were children age 16 or younger.

“July 4th is the day with the most OHV deaths. We urge all OHV riders to prioritize safety so that this statistic will not be a reality again in 2019,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for CFA. “Operators of OHVs must have the necessary skills to operate an OHV, should use appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets, should never operate on roads, and never carry passengers.”

“All OHVs, even youth models, pose risks. OHVs are fast, complex machines, and due to their design, they roll over easily. One wrong choice could lead to the emergency department or worse. Children younger than 16 years just aren’t ready for the demands of safe riding, so we encourage parents to find a different activity for their child,” said Dr. Gary Smith, President, Child Injury Prevention Alliance.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its most recent fatality and injury report related to ATVs in February 2019. The CPSC received reports of 295 ATV fatalities in 2017. In 2017, CFA data included 509 ATV fatalities. The CPSC is continuing to collect ATV fatality data. The CPSC does not collect annual ROV or OHV data and CFA has urged the CPSC to collect and publicly release annual ROV data.

CFA has been working to minimize deaths and injuries from OHVs for decades by petitioning the CPSC to ban adult-size ATVs for children, by convening a coalition to prevent OHV road access, and with that coalition, by compiling fatality information in real time, and by urging the CPSC to collect annual ROV data among other requests to take steps to reduce OHV deaths and injuries.

CFA urges consumers to take the following six critical steps in order 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.
  • 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.

Our partners at Prevent Child Injury have issued an important ATV safety toolkit available at https://www.preventchildinjury.org/toolkits/atv-safety aimed specifically at helping parents learn about the risks of children using ATVs.

CFA and the OHV Safety Coalition collect fatality data from news reports, game or natural resource crash investigations, state crash investigations, as well as data from the CPSC, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). CFA data is likely an underestimate of actual fatalities and CFA consistently updates the data as more information is obtained. CFA makes this data available on our website.

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.