ATV riding can be great family fun. However, ATVs are complex machines, not toys. They move quickly and are heavy enough to cause serious harm in an accident. Teaching safety and responsibility is not enough. Buying your child an ATV of the proper size is equally important in reducing the chances of injury.
1) Follow the legal requirements. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires dealerships refuse the sale of large ATVs for a child’s use. The restriction is in place for your child’s safety. Be honest about your child’s age when purchasing a new ATV.
2) Use CPSC guidelines when buying a used machine. For children sixteen and over, look at 90 cc machines and up. For kids twelve through fifteen, 70 cc to 90 cc is the preferred range. For children six to eleven, look at 50 cc machines. Kids under the age of six should never drive gas-powered ATVs.
3) Have your child sit on the machine. Ensure that your child can reach all controls with ease, especially when the handlebars are turned. Your child must have the hand strength to engage the machine’s brakes fully. He must also be able to touch the ground with at least one flat foot while seated on the ATV.
4) Consider the ATV’s profile. Shorter, wider machines have a lower center of gravity. This makes them harder to tip over, and safer for children to ride. Two machines with identical power are not necessarily equal in terms of safety. The best kid ATV has wide tires and a low center of gravity.
5) Factor in the speed governor. Request to test drive the machine with the governor fully engaged, then again with it completely backed off. Know the full capabilities of the ATV before taking it home. After purchase, set the governor according to your child’s skill level. Adjust accordingly as your child increases in size and skill level.
* Before buying a kid four-wheeler or ATV, ensure it has a working kill-switch attached to a wrist strap.
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