Kids And ATVs: A Deadly Mix

It has been almost two years since Sue Rabe's son Kyle died.

"After you lose a kid, you don't want to live," she says.

He died driving the family's full-sized ATV while riding after school with a friend.

"Kyle took a short cut incline to catch up with Zach and somehow going down that road he hit a stick or rut, and it caused the four-wheeler to jerk out of his hand and it tipped over on him," says Sue Rabe.

The huge ATV crushed the boy.

ATV sales amassed $3 billion last year, fueled by families and young children.

"The rider's behavior is the most important safety feature on the ATV," says Sheryl Van Der Luen of the ATV Safety Institute.

ATV accidents and deaths have been rising for more than a decade. More than one-third of all ATV deaths are children under 16. Consumer advocates say there ought to be a law.

"Just as you would never put a 12-year-old behind a steering wheel, never put a child under 16 on an ATV," says Rachel Weintraub, assistant general counsel for the Consumer Federation of America

And critics say that's because dealers ignore labels that say children under 16 should not ride adult ATVs.

An ATV industry spokesperson says any parent asking to buy an adult ATV for a child would never be sold one.

"A dealer should not sell an ATV when a parent knowingly has made it known that it is for a child," says Van Der Luen.

CBS News tested that claim at several southern California ATV dealerships, making it clear we were shopping for a 12-year-old. One dealer at first followed the rules.

"Legally, I am supposed to tell you to tell you that he can't ride the big one," he said.

But moments later he told us a 12-year-old could ride big ATV called a 250.

"Let me get off company property," he said. "The kid can ride a 250. He can ride it."

But who's watching over those dealers? No one.

"The problem is that the ATV industry is in charge of safety, and under their watch there have been more deaths, more injuries and more powerful and larger ATVs on the market," says Weintraub.

The ATV industry was placed in charge of policing itself back in the 1980's after the Consumer Product Safety Commission sued manufacturers claiming the old three-wheeled ATVs were dangerous. The industry voluntarily stopped making them and created a four-wheeled version. In exchange the industry was allowed to monitor itself.

"What we know is that this has failed Americans miserably," says Weintraub.

It failed the Rabe family. Now, the Rabes tell their son's story to anyone who will listen:

"We only do this in hopes parents will hear that kids should not be on adult-size four wheelers,'' says Sue Rabe.



Part 1: Keeping Kids Off Adult ATVs
  • Jaime Holguin

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