Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring is in the Air

And the time has come, once again, to start killing children on ATVs.  No other reason to put a five year old in control of a motorized vehicle, right?

Or allow FIVE 13-14 year olds on ONE adult machine?  With no HELMETS, even?

ATVs are GROWN UP toys, and the number of adults who think it's A-Okay to put children on them is terrifying.  Worse is the number of adults who think that riding tandem on a single ATV with a child on their lap or clinging to their back is somehow SAFER.

It's not.

I know, I know.  I can hear the chorus of "but my folks let me and I was just fine!"

Disengage outrage and engage brain, wouldja?  My folks didn't have us in car seats, and we're just fine.  My neighbors used to pile a dozen children in the back of the pick-up truck and go zipping down the highway at 65 mph, and at least most of those kids are still alive.  My whole high school crowd drank like fish and ate drugs like it was the 70s, and we're . . . well, and I'M fine.  Just because you survive something doesn't mean it was a good/safe/intelligent thing to do, it just means you lucked out.  A number of children each year aren't as lucky as you were.

My first experience with ATVs and kids came when I was in my early 20s.  My crazy ex-roommate was working at a local hospital as a nurse's aide.  One of her patients?

A boy, six years old, who had (sans helmet) ridden an ATV right off a cliff.  Because, when push came to shove, he couldn't figure out fast enough how to make it stop.  That boy had a broken neck, massive head injuries, and various bits of internal damage from where the vehicle LANDED on him after he landed head first on the rocks.

Understand, this child's life ended that day.  There was zero potential for meaningful recovery here.

His mother would come in every day to sit with him, talk to him, read to him.  One day, my friend was in the room caring for him when the mother arrived.  She was excited to tell him the news (though he was permanently unconscious), share the surprise.  And the surprise was?

They'd bought him a NEW ATV.  She excitedly gabbled on about how, just as soon as he came home, they were going to go RIDING!

My friend lost it.  Asked the woman if she'd lost her damned mind.  The boy was devastatingly, permanently injured,  maimed, crippled, and she was talking about putting him back on the beast that tore him to bits?  Was she stupid?  Didn't kill him enough the first time?

Yes, my friend lost more than her temper--she lost her job.  Probably rightfully so, too.  But I can't help but agree with her.

Close your eyes.  Imagine your eight year old zipping along on an adult ATV.  Now imagine him taking a bump too fast.  Imagine him going ass over teakettle.  Now picture that ATV coming down on top of him.

What, too graphic?  Not nearly as graphic as the real thing, I promise you.

Here's another:  imagine you're zipping along on an adult ATV, your four year old perched on your lap and "safely" held in the circle of your arm.  Your ATV tips, flips, or otherwise catches air or goes over, and all 180 lbs of YOU comes crashing down atop your four year old.  Yes, that's the danger.  And don't say "I'd never crush him, I'd be careful!"

In an accident, you can't be careful.  You've flown before you even know what's happening.  Unless you've mastered independent flight, you cannot keep yourself from landing atop that child.  It's one of the main reasons why you don't ride tandem on single ATVs and you don't carry a child in your lap--because, in an accident, your bulk becomes a danger to the child or passenger.

Plus, that passenger/child is a danger to YOU.  You need to be able to freely move, to shift your weight and have full control of the steering.  With a child on your lap or a passenger at your back, you don't have the control you need to safely operate the vehicle.  You KNOW it's true, because you can't control your passenger's movements or actions.  You can't control whether and when they shift their weight or position.  And them shifting (or failing to) can be the difference between upright and cartwheeling.

I get that ATVs are fun.  But they're not KID fun.  With a death toll of around 700 a year (and another 130,000 or so in the ER each year), they're hardly benign toys.  If you feel you MUST put a child on an ATV, do it right:

ATV Safety Guidelines

Now, I'm going to say it because I think it needs to be said.  If you read all this, rolled your eyes, said something stupid about "nanny states" or "paranoia" or "taking the fun out of everything" and then your kid is hurt or killed on an ATV?

It's your fault.  It is YOU.  Entirely.  Not the manufacturer (though their motives and actions are pretty shady sometimes), not the government, not the owner of the property your kid was riding on, not anyone or anything else.  Totally, completely YOUR fault.

I hope you never have to own it.
An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

1 comment:

  1. I never did see the sense in them. Going fast and taking risks I guess. Kid or not.