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Southern Indiana is full of ATV’s. I grew up in the country, and often drove one, myself, when I was younger. However, today’s news that three 12 year old boys were injured while all riding on the same ATV is a sober reminder of how dangerous these vehicles can be.

According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the 2002 Polaris Sportsman 400 was driven by Alec M. Johnson of Linton. He lost control while traveling east on County Road 400 South, between county roads 700 and 800 West. The ATV left the south edge of the gravel road in Washington Township and hit the pole. All three boys were thrown from the open vehicle.

Apparently, all three boys were riding on the same ATV, and none of them were wearing helmets. Two of them had to be flown to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment of serious injuries.

I sincerely appreciate the draw that young boys feel towards ATV’s. They can be incredibly fun. However, they are also very dangerous. ATV’s can travel at a high rate of speed, are generally driven off-road over uneven terrain, and provide no more bodily protection than a motorcycle. Because of all this, it is very important to be properly trained on one before riding it.

A lot of information about ATV safety is available online. One site with good information is the ATV Safety Institute, or ASI. Parents and their children can register for online safety courses and download useful information about ATV safety. Also, the site has very good "food for thought" for parents to consider BEFORE allowing their children to ride ATVs.

Learning about ATV safety is important for the obvious reason that its best to avoid accidents and injuries before they happen. It’s also important for parents to understand that they can be held legally responsible for harm caused to another person’s child who is allowed to ride an ATV on their property. Parents assume a duty to properly supervise other people’s children when they come over to their house. This includes a duty to properly supervise children if they ride ATV’s. Claims can be made against the parents’ homeowners insurance, farm policies, or against them personally if there is not is not enough insurance coverage.

I truly hope that the boys mentioned in the newspaper have a speedy recovery.

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