Although all-terrain vehicles generally aren't allowed on public roads, hundreds of ATV riders die in crashes there every year, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
About 1,700 ATV riders died in such accidents from 2007 to 2011.
Most ATV riders killed in crashes on public roads are 16 or older and male. Few of the riders killed wear helmets and many are impaired by alcohol, IIHS found.
Many ATVs can reach highway speeds, but their low-pressure tires are not designed for pavement, and many models are apt to roll over.
The fatal ATV crashes on public roads from 2007 to 2011 occurred primarily in rural areas and in 49 states. No such crashes occurred in New Hampshire or the District of Columbia.
The states with the greatest number of ATV fatalities on public roads from 2007 to 2011 were:
- Kentucky, with 122 deaths
- Pennsylvania, 97
- West Virginia, 96
- Texas, 95
West Virginia had the highest rate of ATV rider deaths for its population, followed by Wyoming.
Fatal ATV crashes are more likely than other fatal crashes to involve a single vehicle, researchers found. Three-quarters of the fatal crashes examined in the study involved just one ATV. During the same period, 46 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle accidents.
The study said that toughening up laws prohibiting ATVs from public roads and strengthening helmet laws might help reduce crash deaths. Improving the stability of ATVs to prevent rollovers might also help.