ATV crashes prevalent among teens - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ATV crashes prevalent among teens

July 6, 2006

Albany-- It's a growing problem, injuries and deaths from ATV crashes. Last month, two South Georgia teens died in ATV wrecks and a middle Georgia teenager died last week after another crash. More on the danger and how to stay safe on 4-wheelers.  

The all-terrain-vehicles come in many sizes and colors, red, blue and even camflouge. They're hard to choose from and even harder for dealers to keep them on the showroom floor.

"ATV's are incredibly popular," says Honda Yamaha Kawasaki of Albany owner Wilson Holloway.

Holloway sells 15 to 20 each month but one thing he can't always sell is safety.  He does his best with each sale. "I'm definitely concerned about the safety aspect on it and the proper use of ATV's. I don't want to see anybody get hurt at all," says Holloway.

"Southwest Georgia has had a large amount of fatalities on the ATV's. They're a very popular vehicle but they're not a toy," says Sgt. Jamie Sullivan with Georgia State Patrol. And the number of crashes and deaths from ATV's aren't anything to play with either.

A Georgia map broken up into EMS regions shows that between 2003 and 2004, nearly 30 people died from ATV crashes. The region with the highest number of deaths? Southwest Georgia.

"Some of them are with other vehicles. Some of them are overturned and some of them deal with steering," says Sullivan. People of all ages died but mostly they were teens and almost all with no helmets.  Sgt. Jamie Sullivan says everyone should protect themselves.

"That includes helmet, eye protection and proper shoes or boots," says Sullivan. Also, no more than one person should ride on the ATV at one time and be cautious of where they're driven. "It's not street legal. It's not designed to be on the highway," says Holloway.

Holloway says the ATV is a fun vehicle that can quickly have an opposite effect if not careful.  He feels the biggest safety tool comes from within.

"The biggest piece of safety equipment you've got is the one you carry between your ears," says Holloway. He calls it common sense and hopes it's a tool current and future ATV drivers will use.

Nearly 300 people were admitted to trauma centers across the state in 2004 because of ATV related injuries. Nationwide, 2 percent of teenage traffic fatalities come from ATV wrecks.

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