Humans can become subject matter experts through experience. A few great examples of this phenomenon can be witnessed in seasoned programmers, writers, swordsmiths, and doctors. Given the vast range of skills that can be improved upon through experience, it may come as a surprise that older four wheeler users have almost as many accidents as younger ATVers. 


This phenomenon begs the question, are ATV users better drivers when they are young?


Adult Four Wheelers


According to Susan Harris, University of Nebraska Extension Educator, “Statistics show that 60% of Nebraska’s ATV accidents involving men and women occur in riders between the ages of 10 and 15 years old”. 


Now, at first glance the 60 to 40 percent ratio appears to match the “more experience means improved skill” logic. However, when reviewing accident frequency by age range the data highlights a lesser known human event. ATV users that are older than 55 tend to have just as many accidents as four wheeler users between the ages of 10 and 15. 


Furthermore, the number of accidents men have each year tends to increase until they reach their 34 birthday. Afterward, the rate of UTV incidents dramatically drops, which seems to suggest the age milestone is a benchmark for when ATVers learn how to properly ride an all terrain vehicle. 


Yet two decades later the acquired ATV riding skills seem to disappear.


Gas Powered ATVs


So, what happens during those twenty years? When this question started plaguing Harris, the educator looked into common events that occur as 4×4 riders age. The first explanation reached was that cheap four wheeler users over the age of 55 may have slower reaction times. When this occurs, preventable accidents tend to happen more often.


But Harris quickly surmised that humans do not all age the same, and thus, the dramatic increase in ATV accidents could not be attributed to ageing alone. Taking this into consideration, Harris dug a bit deeper into the data to see if another pattern could be discerned. This time around, the educator discovered a key contributing factor related to older ATV rider accidents. 


On-the-job training.


To elaborate, a decent portion of the 55+ ATV accidents appear to occur at work when ATV safety training is not provided. In case you are not familiar, these videos cover important topics, such as the following.


  • How gravity affects an ATV in various situations
  • Why personal protective equipment should be adorned before riding an ATV
  • Tasks that need to be avoided, such as not adding a cargo to the all terrain vehicle
  • Confirm the four wheeler is safe to use prior to operation
  • Never exceed towing capacity limits


Using the aforementioned pro tips, older ATVers may be able to lower the rate of adult UTV accidents. But until this feat is achieved, older four wheeler users appear to be on par with their younger counterparts when it comes to accidents.


“Don’t expect your age and experience to protect you from the hazards of riding an ATV”, Harris stated before going on to say “Adults usually don’t know much more about ATV safety than youth and statistics prove that complacency can lead to tragedy. Know how to stay safe and always use those practices.”


To read more about the ATV report, go here.


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