If UTV safety laws regarding children were being followed in East Texas, it would not be the hub of accidents involving children that it has become. In Nacogdoches, a 2015 public service announcement from the local Child Welfare Board and Child Fatality Review Team features a reminder on when, how and where children of varying ages should be allowed on UTVs. The message is unfortunately a way too familiar one for a number of families in this part of Texas.
The commercial begins with children horsing around on a UTV without adult supervision. “Slow down, there’s a curve,” warns one of the child actors—but the reply is the dangerous: “I know. Watch this!” However, the real focus of the PSA is on the lack of adults making wise decisions regarding minor UTV usage. According to local child welfare advocate Lisa King, “Adults that allow children to go off on a UTV unsupervised without proper equipment” are the real issue. Laws regarding ages of UTV legal usage vary from state to state.
Saving Lives One UTV Ride at a Time
King notes that, “In a recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission … twenty-five percent of UTV-related deaths” included children under the age of 16. Worse, the timing of the filming and the reality of UTV deaths involving children coincided perfectly. “While we were filming one Saturday, there were two deaths in our immediate surrounding counties of teenagers and younger children that died of improper use of UTVs,” says King. However, it’s important to note that it’s the illegal and improper usage of UTVs that are to blame—not the machines themselves.
Allowing children to get behind the wheel of a UTV is akin to letting them get behind the wheel of your sedan. They don’t have the training, mindset, knowledge or skills (yet) to be able to control such a machine, practice defensive driving and make good decisions. The PSA was so powerful that it was shared at the Dallas Texas Child Abuse Conference in February, where child fatality review groups from around the state got to see it.
Is Your Child Ready to Drive a UTV?
If your teen is of legal UTV driving age in your state, allowing him or her to ride is a call only a parent can make. Strings may be attached, such as requiring adult supervision (even if a child is legally allowed to be on a UTV alone) or allowing driving only during certain hours (daylight). However, regardless of local laws, it’s always a wise move to enroll in a UTV safety course even if it’s not required.
To keep your children safe on UTVs, always supervise them and make sure your equipment is in good working order. Visit UTV Windshields and Accessories to shop for parts and products that contribute to the safety of drivers and passengers in UTVs.