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Fatal ATV accidents on the rise according to insurance group

In West Virginia, some popular recreation spots are most easily accessed by recreational all-terrain vehicles. ATV enthusiasts enjoy the sense of freedom their vehicles bring them. Designed primarily for off-road use, however, ATVs do not travel well on paved surfaces such as streets and highways. Some models are especially prone to rolling over. West Virginia is one of several largely rural states with high rates of these ATV accidents, and the state leads the nation in the number of deaths per 10 million people with 105. However, the number of ATV accidents in urban areas is also of concern in larger cities across the nation, which have seen many fatal accidents during the summer months.

According to data released in 2013 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1,701 people died in ATV accidents across the United States from 2007 to 2011. Two-thirds of those fatalities occurred on paved roads. Among the contributing factors were speeding, drunken driving and no use of helmets. Speeding was implicated in 19 percent of multiple-vehicle accidents and 42 percent of fatal accidents involving single ATVs.

To ensure their safety on ATVs, riders should wear protective gear such as helmets and goggles and only use the vehicles for their intended recreational use. They should avoid traveling on paved surfaces to lessen the chances of collisions with other vehicles.

In many recreational vehicle accidents, any party who is determined to have been negligent or acting without due regard for the safety of others can be held liable for compensation to accident victims. For example, if an ATV malfunction or design flaw results in an accident, the ATV manufacturer can be sued for product liability. If an ATV was being used in a negligent way, the victim may be able to pursue a personal injury claim.

Source: USA Today, "Study: ATV crash deaths rising on public roads," Larry Copeland, Dec. 26, 2013

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