ATV rollover accidents are a huge problem in rural Alberta. Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not have mandatory helmet legislation. Over the past 10 years, there were 145 ATV-related deaths in Alberta – an average of 14 deaths per year. A significant number of ATV deaths involve head injuries, 77% of people who died of head injuries were not wearing a helmet.
It has been a painfully slow process for manufacturers like Polaris, Bombardier, Arctic Cat, Kawasaki and others to incorporate safety features into all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). For many years now there have been numerous spinal fractures and fatalities on ATV’s or “quads”. Personal injury lawyers deal with many fatalities and serious personal injuries from ATV and motorcycle crashes. As many people are aware, in recent years manufacturers have now designed “side by side” ATVs or utility vehicles which sit two passengers side by side and more importantly these utility vehicles have roll bars.
Given that these vehicles are designed to have a high centre of gravity one should not give much applause to these manufacturers for finally putting roll bars in these recreational products. Nevertheless it is good news that these roll bars are standard equipment in side by side utility vehicles (please do not buy a quad), and furthermore some of the manufacturers are now incorporating side doors, either hard or mesh doors as standard equipment as well.
Unfortunately, these side doors are again a half measure on the part of these safety-challenged recreational vehicle manufacturers as if the vehicle rolls (fortunately they have now added three point seatbelts like a car) you will still strike your head on the side of the ground because the door is only a half door and the upper part of your body, namely your head, will still strike the ground.
However in 2014, Honda, yes the original car manufacturer, redesigned their side by side utility vehicle and they designed it with a higher roll bar than standard in the industry, and more importantly they added a side mesh door that… wait for it… goes all the way to the top of the roll bar! Thus if you roll-over your head will be contained by the side door mesh that goes all the way to the top of the roll bar as it should with any safety conscious engineer with even a modicum of common sense.
Incredibly, manufacturers such as Arctic Cat, who make the Prowler, have a plastic, unpadded, projection off the side of the roll-bar, which if you are over 6’2”, your head will fulcrum overtop of the plastic projection likely increasing the acceleration of your head against the ground in a roll over. In shorter people as they are driving the vehicle, on obviously off road bumpy conditions, they report they are constantly banging their head against this unpadded plastic projection which is supposedly supposed to be a safety feature.
Other manufacturers including Bombardier which makes the Can-Am side by side, and Kawasaki and Polaris still have as standard equipment half-doors. This is an unbelievable state of affairs given that these vehicles are designed to be driven fast (the Can-Am side by sides’ motor start at 800cc which 20 years ago would have been considered a massive engine) and can reach unconscionable speeds for off-road conditions.
Fortunately Honda, a car manufacturer, who obviously has common sense engineers in the safety and design of motor vehicles, has finally come up with a safe design for a side by side utility vehicle. Calgary and Edmonton dealerships sell the Honda Pioneer but they are in short supply as result of extremely high demand. Bottom line, sell your old quad and go by yourself a 2014 Honda Pioneer side by side and of course remember to wear your helmet.