Deadly ATV crashes on pace to surpass last year’s total

Published 4:51 am Monday, June 17, 2024

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By Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio News

All-terrain vehicle crashes in Minnesota have claimed 14 lives so far this year, with deaths on pace to surpass last year’s toll of 15.

The most recent was a 52-year-old Becker man, who was a passenger on an ATV that left the road and overturned on June 8 in Garrison.

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A common factor in the majority of fatal ATV crashes has been a lack of safety training, said Jennifer Mueller, southwest regional training officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“The one piece that really sticks out in our fatalities over the last couple years is the majority of them don’t have that ATV safety certificates,” Mueller said.

The training is required for all ATV riders born after July 1, 1987 and who are 12 years or older, but it’s recommended for everyone, she said.

ATV riders should take other precautions, she said, including wearing a helmet, staying on designated trails and riding at a safe speed. Avoiding alcohol is also important, Mueller said.

Some of the fatal crashes have involved side-by-side vehicles traveling on roads and colliding with vehicles. Mueller said ATVs were designed to be off-road vehicles and aren’t meant to be driven at high speeds on the highway.

All ATV riders under age 18 are required to wear a helmet. Those under 15 are not allowed to drive a wider Class 2 vehicle or side by side.

Young riders under 16 are required to have their parents’ permission and supervision to operate an ATV, Mueller said.

“While they may be able to start and stop that ATV, they just lack that experience to respond to something unexpected,” she said. “So it’s super important for parents to still continue to monitor their youth.”

Mueller said it’s also important young riders have an ATV that fits them properly.

As ATVs have grown in both popularity and size, Minnesota authorities say they’re seeing more young riders operating machines too big and too fast for them to control. Rollovers are a serious danger when children are driving vehicles that are too large for them.

The deadliest year in recent memory was 2022, when 22 people died in Minnesota ATV crashes, including four children under age 18.