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Off-Road Vehicle Safety

Since the 1980’s, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Vehicles (UTVs) have become increasingly important tools in many businesses. Unfortunately, ATVs and UTVs have also become a major cause of accidents. Based on a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that looked at a three-year period from 2015 thru 2017 (last year with complete data) there was an estimated 333,600 injuries and 2,258 deaths related to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs). The report this data came from does not address every vehicle with off-road capability. The report excludes dune buggies, sand rails, and golf carts, as well as two-wheeled vehicles with off-road capabilities.

Overturning is the most common cause of injuries and fatalities. Forward and backward overturns often occur while descending or ascending steep terrain. On flat terrain, when an OHV operator attempts to make a sharp turn, the OHV may roll over due to factors such as high rate of speed, change in the terrain surface type, and/or improper loading. Overturns account for an estimated 65% of all fatalities involving an OHV. Collisions are another frequent hazard among OHV accidents. Collisions are the primary hazard in about 37% of the fatalities. Of those collisions, approximately 61% are with stationary objects, such as trees, guard rails, and mailboxes. Speeding and improper handling are the primary factors in collision accidents. OHV occupant ejection ultimately occurs in the majority of fatalities. The report estimates more than 80% of decedents were ejected whether fully or partially.

Luckily, the majority of the OHV accidents were treated and released (84%). The most common diagnoses were fractures (28%) and contusions/abrasions (21%). The most affected body parts were primarily: the arm (29%), the head or neck (29%), the leg (21%), and the torso (20%). Unfortunately, over 50% of all OHV accidents involved people under 24 years of age.

UTVs, ATVs, and other OHVs are useful tools and are commonly used on many farms and other worksites. Like any tool, training has to be completed to ensure everyone knows how to safely operate the equipment. If you are one of many of the businesses that use OHVs, take the time now to ensure your employees are properly trained.

Topping, John. “2020 Report of Deaths and Injuries Involving Off-Highway Vehicles with More than Two Wheels.”, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Dec. 2020,,period%20from%202015%20through%202017.&text=(ATVs)%2C%20445%20as%20Recreational,Utility%20Terrain%20Vehicles%20(UTVs).