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Teen ATV Deaths on the Rise: Would You Let Your Kid Ride?

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A teen's recent death is a harsh reminder that ATVs can be fatal.

Eighteen-year-old Marshell Connor Lucas died in an all-terrain vehicle accident over the weekend. He was trying to catch up to another vehicle and struck a tree.

As riding ATVs has become a popular hobby for kids, the amount of related deaths and injuries is alarming. In 2008, 410 people reportedly died due to ATV accidents -- and 74 of those were children. The Consumer Product Safety Commission believes that at least 135,100 other people were treated that year for ATV-related injuries.

Three mothers -- Carolyn Anderson, Sue Rabe and Carol Keezer -- lost children in ATV-related accidents and founded the Concerned Families for ATV Safety organization, a network of parents helping each other cope with ATV-related deaths. They claim that over 40,000 families each year have a child who is injured or killed in one of these incidents.

Here are a few of the children who have lost their lives in ATV-related accidents:

Dustin Weber, 16, was killed when he lost control of the ATV he was driving in Texas and hit a tree. Dustin was pronounced dead at the scene.

Zachary T. Barker, 15, was an ATV passenger who died after a car struck the ATV he was riding on a St. Louis road. Zachary was thrown 60 feet and died at the accident scene.

Shay Christopher Atwood, 10, died after seven months of surgeries and therapy due to an ATV accident he had last August. Shay was driving a three-wheeler near his Michigan home, and the vehicle flipped over.

Photo: Muskegan Chronicle

Dominique Dezii,13, was killed while riding in an ATV. The driver of the vehicle ran a red light and then hit an oncoming car on a New Jersey road.

Photo: Courier Post Online

James Anderson, 14, was killed when he crashed an ATV into a tree on a backwoods trail during a summer vacation with friends in New Hampshire. His mother, Carolyn, is one of the founders of the Concerned Families for ATV Safety.

Photo: Concerned Families for ATV Safety

Five Georgia children died in 2003 after a car struck their ATV. Dustin Vernedore, 11, Kayla Vernedore, 13, Lindsay Joiner, 13, Courtney Arsenault, 10, and Coranne Megan Nelson, 14, had piled into the ATV and then gone for a ride on a winding road during a birthday party.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides guidelines for reducing the risks associated with ATVs:

* Take a hands-on safety training course. ATV drivers with formal training have a lower injury risk.
* Always wear protective gear, especially a helmet.
* Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride in one as a passenger.
* Do not drive ATVs on paved roads.
* Do not allow children to ride or drive adult ATVs. Kids under 16 on adult ATVs are twice as likely to be injured as children riding in youth ATVs.
* Do not drive ATVs while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Would you let your child ride an ATV?


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