In an attempt to enhance safety and reduce accidents, the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) gathers data and provides statistics regarding Maine motor vehicle crashes. Most recently, the DOT reported that Maine experiences one fatal crash every 60 hours, and one personal injury crash ever 56 minutes. There have been over 30,000 traffic accidents, and many of these involve all-terrain vehicles (ATV).
ATVs are motorized off-road vehicles typically used for recreational purposes. There are many risks associated with these vehicles because of their design and limited restrictions on their operation. Although Maine prohibits children under ten years old from operating an ATV, they do permit children and teenagers over ten and under 16 years old to operate them if they complete a training course. Moreover, while typical driving under the influence statutes applies to ATV drivers, many times, riders engage in this unsafe behavior because there are not many law enforcement officials patrolling the areas where these vehicles are usually driven.
There are several leading causes of severe and fatal ATV accidents in Maine. For example, accidents may arise when a driver uses an ATV on a paved surface, as these vehicles are designed for off-road use and not pavement. Further, most ATVs are single-rider vehicles, and an additional passenger can throw off the vehicle’s balance. Also, many times, accidents result because drivers lack training and supervision. Drivers who unsafely operate an ATV can cause substantial injuries to themselves, bystanders, and other drivers.