ATVs are known as all terrain vehicles, quad or four wheeler. It's a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, a seat that is straddled by the operator with handlebars for steering. These vehicles are able to handle a variety of terrain and are street legal in some countries but not the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom.
The extra wheels give it more stability at slower speeds than a motorcycle, but when they were first introduced in the 1970s there were alarming injury rates for children and adolescents. According to medical texts, they are just as dangerous as motorcycles though there is a much lower rate of helmet usage.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States released figures for 2005 that an estimated 136,700 injuries were associated with ATVs and 767 people died. Data from 2004 showed that 44,000 children under the age of 16 were injured while riding ATVs and 150 children died.
ATVs are now mandated to have a label stating these vehicles greater than 90cc should not be used by riders under the age of 12. However this is not a law but a manufacturer and CPSC recommendation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CPSC actually recommend that no children under the age of 16 should ride it. A Canadian study went further and stated that the injury patterns, severity and cost to the healthcare system of pediatric injuries associated to ATVs resemble those caused by motor vehicles and public policies should reflect that fact.
The United States government actually maintains a website about ATV safety and recommends not driving it with a passenger because the extra person makes it difficult or impossible to shift weight which is required to drive. Another recommendation is to not drive on paved roads because they have solid rear axles with no differential. There are also many websites about the danger of ATVs which have been created by parents and relatives of children killed by ATVs.
Many of the common ATV injuries could be prevented with proper safety equipment such as helmet, eye wear, gloves and riding boots. Aggressive riders that ride on challenging terrain such as rock crawling or hill climbing should wear a motocross style chest protector and shin guards as well.