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3/13/2014 - Spike in ATV crashes on trafficked roadways

ATV tires that are not meant  for the pavement may be to blame for the increase in ATV crashes.

A newly released report is cause for concern among many traffic safety experts and the general public, as there has been a spat of fatalities involving riders of all-terrain vehicles who take their mode of transport onto public roads.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, between 2007 and 2011, there were 1,700 incidents in which ATV riders were involved in an accident on public roads where automobiles frequent. Each one of them resulted in the rider's death.

"These vehicles are designed for off-road use," said Anne McCartt, senior vice president of IIHS. "Yet most of the fatal crashes are occurring on roads."

In the analysis period, fatalities among ATV riders hit a high in 2008, but then fell some 19% three years later in 2011. IIHS attributed the decline not to improved safety measures but rather that fewer people were driving the off-road vehicles due to economic struggles resulting from the recession.

As for why many of the accidents are taking place, IIHS researchers indicated it likely has to do with ATVs not being equipped with tires that are conducive to pavement, as well as their being inclined to roll over on unsteady surfaces.

Most of ATV crashes in the five-year analysis period took place in rural environments, IIHS discovered. And, of all the states where the highest number of fatalities occured, most were in Kentucky at 122, followed by Pennsylvania at 97, West Virginia at 96 and Texas at 95. However, in New Hampshire, where ATV use is also common, there were no recorded ATV deaths from 2007 to 2011.

Increased vehicle mortality rates has been a disturbing trend in the U.S. Late last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that more auto insurance claims were for fatal accidents, as highway fatalities increased in 2012 from the previous year by 1,082.

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