By the Staff of Dirt Wheels

You may have heard a rumor that kids under 14 are now banned from riding ATVs in New York. One ATV media site even published a headline claiming, “New York Raises Minimum ATV Driving Age to 16. New law will go into effect at the end of February.” 


We did a little digging of our own concerning the legislation in question, which included talking to a few of the major powersports players and emailing the sponsors of this new amendment. First, kids under 14 are not banned from operating ATVs, and youth model ATVs like Kawasaki’s KFX50 will still be available at New York powersports dealerships. This isn’t a “new law” but an amendment to an already established bill. The portion of the previous bill that is affected reads as follows:

The new wording changes the minimum age to obtain an ATV safety training course certificate from 10 to 14. Adolescents aged 14 to 15 must have an ATV safety course training certificate on them to ride unsupervised on public lands. Now all kids under 14, rather than 10, must be supervised by a guardian who is at least 18 when riding on public lands. The wording at the end that states the guardian can be 16-17 years of age as long as they hold an ATV safety course completion certificate has also been removed with the new amendment. The amendment does not restrict ATV riding on property owned or leased by a parent or guardian.

The reason for this stems from the number of senseless injuries and fatalities involving ATVs. A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in Pediatrics magazine was used to justify the amendment. Here is a quote from that report that shows the real problem isn’t the machine but a lack of supervision and plain reckless stupidity in most cases.

“Survey studies indicate that almost all young ATV users are riding adult-size ATVs, and consistent with this finding, more than 95 percent of pediatric deaths and injuries have occurred on adult-size vehicles. Research has shown that a significant proportion of crash victims (15 percent to 40 percent) were passengers at the time of their injury or death. In addition, when including operators with passengers, CPSC fatality data showed that nearly half (46 percent) of youth fatalities involved multiple riders on the ATV at the time of the crash.

We’ve all seen it at our local riding areas – small kids riding full-sized 4×4 ATVs without supervision, usually without so much as a helmet, and often riding double – or worse. Their arms are barely long enough to reach the handlebars, much less turn them, and Mom and Dad are nowhere to be seen. Despite all of the warning labels on the ATV, which include – No riders under 16; No riding double; Wear a helmet and appropriate riding gear – they go ignored, kids get hurt, and lawyers are brought in despite the parent’s own careless recklessness. That affects the future (or no future) of ATV production for all of us.

If this forces some parents to be more responsible for their children’s safety – we support it.

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