I am writing, as a member of a coalition dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by off-highway vehicles (OHVs), to share information on the dangers of operating OHVs on roads as Swan’s Island considers allowing them on county roads. Our coalition of doctors, consumer advocates and researchers sent a letter to the Swan’s Island Board of Selectmen urging them not to increase road access to OHVs.
The two main types of OHVs are all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). Neither of these types of vehicles is designed for roadway use, and OHV manufacturers and trade associations have policy statements strongly urging consumers not to operate these vehicles on public roads.
OHVs are designed for riding in wooded areas, on trails and between obstacles. They provide high ground clearance for rough terrain. However, these features put OHVs at a higher risk for rollovers, and require “that the vehicle takes wider turns than are found in standard road design.” In addition, OHV tires are made to grab off-road terrain and can act unpredictably on roadway surfaces, especially with increasing speed.
ATV roadway crashes, for which there is the most data, account for more than 60 percent of ATV deaths and more than 30 percent of serious ATV injuries. Roadway crashes are more likely to involve multiple fatalities, carrying passengers, collisions and head injuries.
Local governments should not sanction and encourage dangerous riding behavior that safety advocates and industry agree should not be taking place.
More research and information on our coalition and why OHVs are not safe on roads is available on our OHV Safety webpages at http://consumerfed.org/off-highway-vehicle-safety/.
Consumer Federation of America
Senior Policy Advocate