ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Following the death of a ten-year-old southeast Missouri boy, killed while riding an ATV with a 13-year-old friend, some are calling for lawmakers to revisit the state’s age requirements for ATV use. But a longtime firefighter and paramedic in St. Louis County isn’t so sure that’s what’s needed.
Metro-West assistant chief Ed Beirne says adults responsible for young ATV riders need a stern lecture about the safety training recommended before letting them ride.
“How many lessons did your father, your mother, whatever, give you before they allowed you to get into a car? Sometimes it’s six months worth and how long did you spend with your son or daughter on this ATV? It’s hardly ever,” he said. “They think it’s like riding a bike but it’s not a bike, it has a huge motor on it, tremendous speed and I know they’re making them faster.”
Legally, those under 16 years of age in Missouri are allowed to drive an ATV on a parent’s land or if accompanied by a parent. Everyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while on an ATV in the state.
Beirne says, from what he’s seen, children injured or killed in ATV accidents are not always the ones without helmets. “It’s usually that they fly over the top and they hang onto the handlebars or it flips backward, on top of them, and crushes them.”
Figures posted online by the Consumer Product Safety Commission show Missouri had 181 ATV deaths between 1982 and 2006. 58 of those were riders under the age of sixteen.