These Are The Most Common ATV Injuries

In ATV Setups by Kevin

ATVs, also known as quads, 4-wheelers, or quad bikes, have always been known as a fun, but dangerous activity. according to US authorities, more than 400 persons die yearly in accidents associated with ATVs, and that’s only the death count. rates of non-lethal injury following quad accidents are also very high. and in these accidents, while the whole body is at risk of getting hurt, there are some body parts that are more at risk than others. that’s why I have decided to create this article: to talk about the most common body parts affected in an ATV accident for both kids and adults.

When it comes to the most common body parts affected, that is something that is going to depend on a few factors, like for example the size of the quad, the size of the person that is riding, the terrain or environment where the person is riding, and more. generally though, the most common body part affected are going to be the extremities, specifically the arms. when it comes to lethal injuries, head & spinal cord injuries are the most common body parts involved in ATV deaths.

What are the most common ATV injuries?

  • Limb injuries: Arm and leg injuries are most common after an ATV accident, it is estimated that over 40% of ATV accidents involve some sort of limb injury. fracturing an arm or a leg seems to be awfully common when it comes to accidents, and there have even been reports of amputations being done after some rollovers. while limb injuries are the most common, they are also thankfully not very lethal. elbows are another body part that often gets injured in these accidents, with scrapes and bruises being very common near that area. anyways, I would recommend anybody riding to wear elbow pads, kneepads, and MX boots in order to minimize damage to that area in case of a rollover occurring.
  • Head & spine injuries: These are generally the most devastating injuries. people that hurt their head after for example being thrown off a quad may suffer partial paralysis to part of their body or even death. it is estimated that about 30% of ATV injuries involve the head or spine in some way. and while not all of these injuries are severe, the ones that are, typically result in lifelong disability. if you or your kids are going to be riding quads, the first thing that I would get is a decent helmet, which can be the difference between life and death. I consider wearing a helmet and a decent chest protector pretty much mandatory when it comes to ATV riding.
  • Trunk injuries: Other injuries involve the chest and back area, which can be hurt in several ways, including hitting the chest with the handlebars, getting thrown off the quad or even whiplash injuries after crashing. people often hurt their chest while trying to brake forcefully to avoid an incoming obstacle, hitting themselves with the handlebars in the process. while these types of injuries are rarely fatal, they are super painful, especially if the person isn’t wearing a chest protector. rib fractures are also a common result of ATV crashes.
  • Neck injuries: Whiplash injuries are also a common complaint of ATV riders. whiplash is a common term for a group of maladies involving the neck, and they usually happen when there is a sudden deacceleration like for example when involved in a crash.
  • Other injuries: When it comes to other injuries, I’m talking about things like getting burned by the exhaust pipe or muffler, overuse injuries like for example back pain, arm pain etc. one of the most common complaints made by folks that are just starting to ride is that their arms and shoulders hurt hours after riding ATVs. and that is usually because of bad posture when riding, specifically riding way too far back. this creates tension in the arms and shoulders and that’s where the pain and soreness comes from. also, there are some quads that have the exhaust pipe sticking out of the fenders or chassis, and those metal parts can get quite hot. many people, me included, have burned their leg when getting off or hopping on the quad. so if your quad is new make sure you know where the muffler is so that you don’t hurt yourself by mistake.

So why are ATVs so dangerous?

While there are several reasons why people get hurt so often while riding quad bikes, the main one is because of an unskilled operator using the machine. ATVs have developed a reputation for being something easy to ride, and because of that, they will give you a false sense of security because it’s a 4-wheeled vehicle and so you don’t need to worry about balance so much, at least in a straight line. and that’s where the problems come in. people get overconfident and lose balance when they least expect it.

Other reasons why quads are so dangerous is because of the ground clearance of the quad. ground clearance is something that everybody wants in their ATV, especially if used for offroading purposes, but it’s something that can contribute to rollovers if not careful. ground clearance is measured by calculating the distance between the tires and the lowest part of the ATV chassis. the higher the clearance, the more chances of a rollover happening during sharp cornering.

Another reason why ATV accidents are so common these days are because of the tires. many riders like to use deep-mud tires, which will work great in extreme conditions, but not so much in normal terrain, like in grass, or in light dirt. anyways, these tires have very pronounced tread which can handle mud quite well but they will not provide as much traction on paved roads for example. many people make the mistake of using these tires in those conditions and so that makes riding more dangerous.

Since learning and using an ATV is super easy and something that anybody can do, they often give people a false sense of security, making people ride faster than they should, corner at higher speeds, and even ride with 2 or 3 persons in the back. and while that is something that can definitely be done, newbies aren’t the ones that should be doing that. don’t believe that just because ATVs have 4 wheels they are not dangerous.

How to stay safe when riding quads

The first thing is that you must have the correct quad for your size and skill level. it’s not a good idea for a grown man to be riding a 90cc quad or likewise for a teenager to be riding on a 700cc full-size quad. I made an article recently explaining ATV sizes and which should you be getting. anyways, the ideal quad is going to depend a lot on a few factors, like your weight, height, and skill. if for example, you are very underweight, then avoid riding ATVs with bigger engines. and if you are bigger than most, the opposite is true.

Another recommendation is to make sure your tires are in good conditions before riding. as tires are used, the tread gets worn and used up and the less tread on the tire, the less traction it is going to have. and the less traction, the more likely you might lose control of the machine. the picture below is a good example of a set of tires that definitely need to get replaced

You should also avoid riding on paved roads, especially if your quad is using normal ATV tires made for offroading purposes. ATV tires are not made for public roads, their grooves are way too big. plus, the pressure of the tires is usually lowered to provide some bounce when offroading, and that might affect the quad stability when riding on paved roads.

And last but not least, please try to use safety equipment every time that you are going to be riding quads, especially a helmet. like I said in the upper parts of this article, most deadly injuries are caused by head trauma, something that can be avoided by wearing a decent helmet.

Safety Equipment: the best way to reduce the chances of a serious injury

Even though you might be want to spend the money on performances upgrades or a new ATV, the best investment that you can make in this hobby is getting some decent safety equipment, ideally, a complete package consisting of helmet, boots, chest protector, and gloves, among other things. over the years I have bought several pieces of equipment and I have learned what is good and what isn{t. even though nowadays most brands make great equipment, the prices can vary a lot.

Like I said at the top, if you are on a budget, get at the very least a helmet and a chest protector if possible. this is because most serious injuries involve the head, spine, or the chest. boots are also a must buy if you want to protect your legs from scrapings and small rocks. and since you might be wondering which gear brands are best when it comes to helmets and boots, I decided to make a small list of the best helmets, boots, and protectors as of 2019.

Helmet – ONeal 2SERIES Mens SPYDE Helmet

The most important equipment you must get. since the head and the spine are so delicate, it’s no wonder why this is first on the list. anyways, the thing that I like about this helmet is that it provides great protection for the price. helmets with that build quality are usually over 500 bucks but this one is much cheaper than that. another thing that I like about this helmet is the styling of it. it looks super interesting and edgy and it combines very well with my orange jersey and pants. I would highly recommend this for any newbie rider.

Boots – Fox Comp 5 Boots

Limb injuries are also very common when riding quads. scraping and bumping the legs with branches and rocks is something that often happens to new riders. so if this is your case or if you are going to be riding on offroading areas, then you should get yourself a pair of boots. they are also a must buy if your quad doesn’t have nerf bars because if your feet slip off the footwell, you are going to want to have something protective on your feet. the Fox Comp 5 are the boots that I’m using right now and currently, they are the very best boot for under 200$. they are super comfortable and will last you a long time.

Chest Protector – Leatt 4.5 Chest Protector

Other than the helmet, this is the most important thing you can buy to ensure your safety. one of the main ways that people hurt themselves when riding is by smashing their chest into the handlebars. getting a chest protector will make sure that you avoid a fracture if that happens. most protectors will cover the chest, back and rib area, with some covering the shoulders and traps too.

Gloves – Fox Racing Bomber S

Gloves can be really useful in several ways. first of all, if you live in a really cold place, then wearing gloves might be the only way to ride comfortably unless you have some heated grips installed. they are also ideal for people who have sensible hands that are prone to calluses or blisters. if you are constantly peeling your hands with the handlebars when riding fast, then wearing some decent gloves will solve this issue. I would recommend that you avoid very expensive gloves though because the quality doesn’t change that much as the pricing starts increasing.

Goggles – 100% 50410-076-02 Goggles

If you are going to be buying a helmet, then you are also going to have to get yourself a pair of goggles too. MX helmets have an opening on the front part that is made so that you can wear goggles with the helmet. goggles can be used for both covering your eyes from harsh sunlight, but it can also be used when it’s raining or snowing. also, they are used to cover your eyes from particles and dust in case that you are riding on a track. I personally also wear goggles at night because there are a lot of bugs flying around where I live.

Nerf Bars – Depends on your quad

I would also recommend installing nerf bars if going offroading

Nerf bars can be even more crucial for your safety than boots. and the reason is pretty obvious: while boots may protect your feet from the ground below the quad, the nerf bar will actually prevent your feet from getting in contact with it in the first place. anyways, a nerf bar is a net made of cloth that you install near your quads footwell so that if your feet slip off of it by mistake, your feet will touch the net instead of the cold ground below. if you need to choose between getting nerf bars and boots, go with the nerf bars. not only are they cheaper, but they actually prevent accidents in the first place.