Many people are drawn to the dare-devil aspect of off road biking but each year hundreds of children and adults are killed or injured in accidents involving a motorcycle, dirt bike, trail bike, moped, motor-scooter or mini-bike. Between 2001 and 2004, an estimated 500,000 people were in dirt bike accidents and 75 percent of those injured were hospitalized. In 2003 alone, dirt bike and motorcycle accidents accounted for 245 deaths among children and teens under the age of 19 and almost 57,000 trips to the emergency room to treat injuries.
CDC study on Dirt Bike Injuries:
- The majority of injured children are male.
- The majority of injuries involved a dirt bike/trail bike.
The six most common non-fatal injuries endured by youth riding a motorcycle, dirt bike, trail bike, moped, motor-scooter or mini-bike between 2001 and 2004 were:
- Fracture 7,282 (30.6%)
- Contusion/Abrasion 5,565 (23.4%)
- Laceration 3,893 (16.4%)
- Strain/Sprain 2,866 (12.0%)
- Internal injury/Concussion 2,016 (8.5%)
- Burn 562 (2.4%)
Off-road riding motorcycle riding requires physical skills and judgment that most children and young teens do not yet possess. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents not allow their children and teens under the age of 16 to ride off-road motorcycles or ATVs and that states prohibit the use of such vehicles by children and teens under the age of 16. Studies of ATV use have shown that state laws with age restrictions for off-road vehicle use are effective in decreasing the number of riders under the minimum age and that requiring off-road riders to wear helmets can reduce the risk of fatal injury. According to the American Motorcycle Association, only 19 states require off-road motorcyclists under the age of 18 to wear helmets and only eight states have set minimum ages (range: 8 to 14 years) for operation of off-road motorcycles.
Dirt bikes are similar to motorcycles but they are designed for off-road riding. Some characteristics specific to dirt bikes are a light weight, narrow body and high-ground clearance for easy jumping and stunts, a long suspension travel for landing jumps, small engines, and large wheels with knobby tires. Dirt bikes are often modified to suit the needs of the particular sport. For example, in Motocross which is a race over jumps, bikes need a particularly large suspension travel, smaller fuel capacities, and no indicators. Endura racing on the other hand is a long distance travel competition requiring an engine with high speed, a low-weight frame, and no seats since the rider uses a half-sitting position.
Washington State Off-Road Laws
- Eye protection is not required
- Headlights are required after sunset
- Maximum Sound Level:
- 86 db(A) measured at 50 feet
- Minimum operator age is 13 except under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older possessing a valid license to operate a motor vehicle.
- Mufflers are required by law
- No operator license is required
- Registration is required by law
- Rider education certification is not required
- Safety helmets are required by Law
- Spark arrestor is required by law
- Taillights are required after sunset
- Trails program is available
- Vehicle title is not required
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