ATV accident statistics 2024

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Author picture
Edited by:
a broken atv at the side of a forest path

During the pandemic, off-highway vehicles (OHVs), specifically all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), rose in popularity. More consumers than ever became attracted to the unique off-roading capabilities of ATVs, using the vehicles for both recreational and professional purposes. However, that same year, emergency rooms saw significantly higher numbers of patients for injuries caused by ATV accidents. Before purchasing an ATV, consumers should be aware of the risks associated with such vehicles.

Key insights

ATVs caused 96% of all OHV-related injuries from 2016 to 2020.

Jump to insight

OHVs cause more than 700 deaths and 100,000 injuries in the U.S. each year.

Jump to insight

People ages 16 to 34 make up the biggest proportion of OHV-related injuries, while people ages 55 and older make up the biggest proportion of OHV-related deaths.

Jump to insight

About 300 children younger than 16 died from OHV accidents from 2016 to 2018.

Jump to insight

In 2020, 78% of those injured in OHV accidents were treated then released by emergency rooms, and 19% were hospitalized.

Jump to insight

General ATV accident statistics

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks injuries and deaths caused by off-highway vehicles (OHVs), which includes ATVs, dirt bikes, utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), side-by-side vehicles and snowmobiles.

The CPSC found that ATVs were implicated in almost all (96%) injuries related to OHV accidents from 2016 to 2020.

How many are injured in ATV accidents yearly?

On average, OHVs cause over 700 deaths and 100,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. each year. From 2016 to 2018, 2,211 people died from OHV accidents. In 2020, these accidents caused 112,300 injuries, according to the CPSC.

The impact of these deaths is generally concentrated, with 10 states accounting for 42% of all OHV-related deaths from 2016 to 2018.

What causes ATV accidents?

The most likely cause of ATV accidents is inexperience — a new ATV rider is thirteen times more likely than an experienced rider to crash during their first month of use, according to the riding safety course Offroad-Ed.

Other causes of accidents include incorrectly operating the vehicle by driving on paved surfaces or taking more passengers than seats allow. Completing dangerous stunts, operating the ATV in unfamiliar terrain and ignoring state or local laws can also increase the risk of accidents. If a rider is under 18, having no adult supervision also makes crashes more likely.

Accidents by age group

From 2016 to 2018, people ages 55 and up comprised the biggest proportion of OHV-related deaths, followed by people ages 25 to 34.

People under 12 years old had disproportionately fewer deaths than their age group’s representation in the U.S. population during this time frame. However, deaths were disproportionately higher in the 12 to 15, 16 to 24 and 45 to 54 age groups. Experts believe this may be due to age group differences in OHV usage or other age-related factors.

Still, younger age groups are more likely to get injured in OHV accidents. From 2016 to 2020, people ages 16 to 24 and 25 to 34 were the most likely to get OHV-related injuries, according to the CPSC.

ATVs and children

Almost 300 children under 16 died in OHV accidents from 2016 to 2018, and 142, or 48%, of these children were under 12 years old. From 2016 to 2020, 69,300 children under 12 were injured in OHV accidents.

The use of ATVs by children is a polarizing issue. Some organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have issued warnings to parents about the associated dangers.

“ATVs are not safe for children and should not be used by any child under the age of 16,” Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of the AAP, said in an article by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). “Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises all parents to protect their children by preventing them from driving or riding in an ATV.”

The CFA and AAP both disapprove of the youth ATV model that many major ATV producers sell. For example, Polaris, a top-selling ATV brand, sells youth models for children ages 6 to 14. These models have maximum speeds that range from 29 to 38 miles per hour.

What types of injuries occur most?

In 2020, injuries to the head, neck and arms made up the largest proportion of emergency room visits for OHV-related injuries.

Many of these injuries weren’t life-threatening: Most victims (78%) were treated then released. Only 19% were hospitalized. The most common diagnoses from these visits were fractures and contusions or abrasions, meaning bruises or scrapes. About 68% of the victims were male. Despite guidance from organizations like the CFA and AAP, hospitalizations were significantly higher in 2020 than the four years prior.


Why are ATVs so dangerous?

ATVs are highly specialized vehicles built to drive through rough off-road terrain. The features that help the vehicles do this — wide tires, a fixed rear axle, a high seat — can also make them more susceptible to crashes when improperly operated.

How fast does an ATV go?

ATV speeds vary by engine size:

  • 50cc to 200cc engines have top speeds of 15 to 38 mph.
  • 400cc to 650cc engines have top speeds of 65 to 71 mph.
  • 700cc to 1000cc engines have top speeds of 75 to 82 mph or more.
How do I stay safe while riding an ATV?

According to the ATV Safety Institute, there are eight golden rules to stay safe while riding an ATV.

  • Wear a helmet, goggles and other safety gear.
  • Never drive on paved roads.
  • Never drive drunk.
  • Never carry more passengers than you have seats for.
  • Ride an age-appropriate ATV.
  • Parents should supervise children operating ATVs.
  • Ride on ATV-designated trails.
  • Take an ATV safety course before riding.


  1. “OHV & ATV Safety.” Consumer Product Safety Commission. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  2. “Types of OHVs.” Offroad Ed. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  3. “Causes of ATV Accidents.” Offroad Ed. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  4. “2021 Report of Deaths and Injuries Involving Off-Highway Vehicles with More than Two Wheels.” U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  5. “ATVs Are Dangerous to Children.” Consumer Federation of America. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  6. “Vehicles For Youth.” Polaris. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  7. “The Unique Design of ATVs Creates Risks.” Offroad Ed. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  8. Olizarowicz, B. “How Fast Does An ATV Go?” Neighbor Blog. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  9. “The ATV Safety Institute’s Golden Rules.” ATV Safety Institute. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here


Back to ConsumerAffairs

Journal of Consumer Research