Opposition To On-Road Use

Position In Opposition to On-Road Operation of ATVs

The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) is the national not-for-profit trade association representing manufacturers and distributors of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the United States. SVIA’s major goal is to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs.

Tens of millions of ATV users ride their ATVs in a safe and appropriate manner every day. In addition to their popularity for responsible outdoor recreation, they are tremendously useful products and have become an essential tool for farmers, law enforcement officials, the military and others.

The majority of accidents and injuries are caused by misuse of the ATV. Ninety-two percent of ATV-related fatalities involve behaviors that the Industry warns against in its rider education programs, in all literature and on vehicle labels. These behaviors include children riding adult-sized ATVs, operating on paved roads, operating without a helmet or other protective safety gear, carrying passengers on single-rider ATVs and operating under the influence of alcohol.

ATVs are designed, manufactured and sold for off-road use only. On-road vehicles must be manufactured and certified to comply with U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These safety standards consist of extensive and detailed compliance requirements. Since ATVs are not intended to be used on-road, they are not designed, equipped or tested to meet such standards. Permitting on-road use of ATVs, including modified ATVs, would be in conflict with manufacturers’ intentions for their proper use, and would be contrary to federal safety requirements.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has analyzed U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data on ATV rider fatalities occurring on public roads. In 2015, the most recent year for which the data is available, 324 ATV riders were killed on public roads. This number has been relatively consistent for the past several years. Seventy-three percent of the fatalities occurring on public roads were on rural roads. Of those, 63% were on minor roads.

ATV fatalities occurring on public roads comprise a significant portion of total ATV-related fatalities, as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If ATVs could be kept off of public roads, as urged by SVIA and as contained in our Model State ATV Legislation, a large percentage of ATV-related injuries and deaths would be prevented.

CPSC’s 2015 Annual Report of ATV Deaths and Injuries, the most recent available, found that estimated ATV-related fatalities have declined most years from 2007 through 2015 but noted that data collection for 2013-2015 is ongoing. As a percentage of total ATV-related fatalities, on-road fatalities were an alarming 53%, up from 48% in 2011, of the total in 2012 (the latest year of complete data available from CPSC). This occurs despite the fact that ATVs are not manufactured for or intended to be operated on highways, and vehicle labels and owner’s manuals clearly warn against such use.

Imagine the progress that could be made in reducing ATV-related injuries and deaths if states were to enact and enforce laws to prohibit ATV use on highways.

Riding on public roads introduces the possibility of the ATV colliding with a car or truck, an obviously dangerous situation. Another CPSC study of 3,200 ATV-related deaths that occurred between 1985 and 1996 found that the most frequently reported hazard pattern (56% of all ATV incidents) involved collisions and 35% of these involved collisions with motorized vehicles.

SVIA emphasizes that ATVs are not designed, manufactured, or in any way intended for use on public streets, roads or highways and urges that on-highway use of ATVs be prohibited and that law enforcement efforts be strengthened to eliminate this dangerous practice.

It should be noted that for purposes of prohibiting ATV use on public roads, SVIA does not consider such public thoroughfares as logging roads, woodland trails or other unimproved ways to be public streets, roads, or highways and the prohibition on allowing on-road use of ATVs should not be meant to apply to a road that is part of a designated trail system permitting ATV operation.