What is the youngest you would let a child ride a gas powered ATV?

I live in a semi-rural area and I’ve seen relatively small kids roaring back and forth across their parent’s property in kid sized ATVs astoundedat how fast they were going. Some with helmets, some without. Lots of the rural lifestyle oriented people in this area post pics on facebook of their young kids (5-9 or so) being given gas powered ATVs as presents.

I saw this tragic story in the news andwondered at the wisdom of doing this. Assuming your kid wanted a a gas powered ATV and you could afford one what is the youngest you would allow then to have one?

The article is behind a paywall so I can’t see it, but as for the age, I think every parent is going to give you a different answer. My daughter is 11 and wouldn’t be ready to get on one. OTOH, I have a friend that lives in a very rural part of the country, her kid is probably 6 or 7 and could probably handle it just fine. Partially because he’s just born that way, just like you probably had some kids in your school that were playing tackle football in 2nd grade and some kids that would have snapped like a twig if they attempted soccer in 6th grade. But also, this kid has grown up in the rural life. He’s been hiking since he could walk, he’s been riding on ATVs with his dad since he’s been big enough to hold on.

As far as the tragic story (that I can’t read), plenty of adults get hurt and killed on them as well. Same for Snowmobiles.

There’s very few things, if any, that people/parents can say X is the correct age for kids to start doing Y at.

FTR, I see that the top speed of the linked to ATV is nearly 30 which is pretty fast, but it also has a governor that can be set as low as 5mph and a way for parents to remotely shut it down from 300 feet away.

FWIW, I got a Taco 44 minibike when I was five.

Story from USA today

There are a lot of serious ATV accidents. I wouldn’t let anyone under 16 drive one, and even at that age, I’d want them to have some kind of training. (and I’m not generally a worrier about kids and dangerous stuff)

Ah, that’s the Jaime Lynn Spears thing I saw floating around this morning. She’s the reason I heard about Pita Pit a while back. Glad I heard about that place, it’s really good.

It would depend on the size of the kid, their personality, and the exact style ATV we’re talking about. Four wheelers and small kids make me really nervous but something like a 6 or 8 wheeled not so much. And if we’re talking basic two-wheeled mini-bikes I can be fine turning a 4-5 year old loose on one. IMHO the four-wheeled versions flip too easily and not in a predictable fashion which makes them not a great choice for anyone, let alone someone under say 14-16.

  1. And After they passed a drivers test.

I’d say younger than their teens and you are just begging to buy a small coffin.

All 3 of my kids drove ATVs, jetskis, and snowmobiles when well under 10. Coulda been as young as 5 for the youngest - who was also the best driver.

I don’t have a set age but those things are dangerous as hell. I wouldn’t let either of my daughters ride one now. I started riding 4-wheelers when I was ten but that was obviously too young because I wrecked and flipped them too many times to count. Everyone that I know that has owned one has gotten seriously injured from it and I know of two fatalities personally.

I am not overprotective in general. Go-karts and even smaller dirt bikes are fun and fine. It is just ATV’s that I have a problem with. They are basically just small, crappy cars that handle terribly yet beg you to take them at high speed across the most challenging terrain you can find.

I spent a lot of time rolling around in the back of my parents’ station wagon growing up. I lived. A lot of kids didn’t.

Most kids will not die in ATV accidents. As long as you’re willing to play the odds, no problem.

I honestly don’t know if that’s a higher rate than other activities, but I wouldn’t take any chances.

I’d be hesitant to get them on an ATV at almost any age. Those things are dangerous.

I’d have my kid on a dirt-bike as soon as I thought he was able to handle it, though (assuming he had any interest).

ETA --> oh, and what **Shagnasty **said.

We had some friends who were very into their toys - ATVs, snowmobiles, jetskis. They had a son who they put on vehicles before he was old enough to talk. In the summer it was the ATV, in winter it was the snowmobile. He would buzz around the yard on an small oval track they had laid out on their property. I was always amazed because, as I said, he was barely old enough to walk. Flash forward to today - he is a professional racer Jacob Yurk

So, I guess I could say I am of 2 minds about the issue. I would never dream of putting a small child of mine on a gas powered vehicle, but…

I grew up with them, my vote is it depends on the kid.

The knee jerk reaction that they = a tiny coffin is absurd.

Good thing I didn’t say anything that absolute, then.

I don’t know anyone personally who had their child killed on an ATV. I just once knew someone who had their pre-teen kid run his ATV into a (parked) car, mangle his leg, have to be hospitalized, and I don’t know how he turned out, but at the time the doctors said that his leg would never grow properly and he would walk with a limp for the rest of his life.

And here are the odds:

  • According to this Reuters article, 25% of US kids (6.375 million) aged 12-17 have ridden an ATV within the last year. A large percentage of those do so without a helmet (25% report never wearing helmet, less than half report always using one)
  • According to this site, there are 23.5 million kids in the US aged 12-17
  • Using your ER visit number with the numbers above, the odds of any given child rider being seriously injured is 0.58% (roughly 1 in 700)
    -The odds of any given child rider suffering a fatal injury is 0.0011% (roughly 1 in 345,000)
    Granted, when an accident on an ATV happens the likelihood of injury is greater than a dirt bike accident. ATV’s are heavier and it’s harder to predict where they will end up after an accident.

That said, for me it would still depend on the kid and the machine. For a child who has experience riding other powered machines and is wearing appropriate protective gear on an appropriately sized machine, 5-6 is in the realm of possibility - at 8-10 I wouldn’t bat an eye.

Totally depends on the kid and the size of the ATV, I mean, if you’re putting an 8 year old on an 800lb Polaris you’re going to have problems.

I have two boys and I’d trust the younger over the older in just about any Trial of Coordination. I’d probably start them on a minibike over an ATV though. Age 5-7 is a good ballpark to start on a little 50cc engine. Older than that, they can handle it for sure.


Posters have already trotted out the statistics and anecdotes. Do with them what you wish. All are meaningless. It all boils down to your own family’s attitudes. If your family has a devil may care attitude and tearing up the land with a loud machine is your definition of fun, go for it. If your family has to complete with other families just to keep the kids happy until the next thing comes along, go for it. We raised our kids to enjoy the land via intensity of the experience, and not intensity of the [del]ab[/del]use of that land.