While millions of Americans have bemoaned the high price of gasoline for the vital purpose of traveling to work, school or home, thousands of Americans drive vehicles which have no purpose in terms of going from Point A to Point B. Rather, these are strictly recreational vehicles — and not only that, but recreation that can be perilous, especially given the nature of the vehicles.
These vehicles are known as ATVs, or all terrain vehicles. And they’re not as recreational as their makers would claim, since many such vehicles have clearly unsafe designs.
One of the most dangerous ATVs is the most popular brand: the Yamaha Rhino ATV manufactured by Yamaha Corporation.
The Yamaha Rhino has a narrow body and narrow tires and also is top-heavy. The narrowness enables the vehicle to be placed in the back of a pickup truck, rather than on a trailer, which is the usual means of transporting them. (ATVs are off-road vehicles which are illegal to drive on streets and highways in many states.) But this same narrowness, combined with being top-heavy, makes the Yamaha Rhino prone to rollovers, even when driven slowly and on a flat surface.
The problem is, ATVs are built and sold to be driven on what their name suggests: all terrain, including muddy slopes, bumpy surfaces and rocky ditches. An ATV, virtually by definition, will be driven on surfaces which invite rollovers and crashes. And the Yamaha Rhino ATV, by design, is more prone to such crashes.
Also, the Yamaha Rhino tends to lack side doors and handlebars for a driver or passenger’s safety. Because of these defects, Yamaha offered a “recall” of sorts, offering to add such doors and handlebars to the ATVs of dissatisfied owners. But many such vehicles remain available — and remain unsafe.
The no-doors design also leads to riders making the natural reaction of trying to brace themselves when the ATV rolls over. As a result, many riders’ arms and legs have been crushed, sometimes requiring amputation.
Indeed, just how bad is the carnage? According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, ATV accidents, including Rhino Yamaha accidents, cause 700 deaths and 135,000 injuries annually in America. (The first Yamaha Rhino vehicle was introduced in 2003.)
Also, in Arkansas alone, a decade-long study [http://www.medicinenet.com/script /main/art.asp?articlekey=85465] showed that children were particularly vulnerable to ATV accidents. The study showed that 455 children aged 6 months to 19 years old suffered ATV injuries for which they were treated at hospitals. These included 77 skull fractures, 11 amputations, 53 brain injuries, 12 spine fractures and six deaths.
Overall, ATV injuries and deaths have more than doubled in the past decade, while traffic accident deaths overall have declined. Yet Americans continue to buy costly ATVs, often sold for more than $10,000, whose very design may cause them injury or death, even when operated in what should be a safe manner.