The Fast and The Furious – Redux

On August 4th of last year, almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about the irresponsibility of parents allowing their children to drive cars, dirt bikes, ATVs and other motorized vehicles in the wake of a video that was found on the internet of a 7 year-old driving the family car on a country road.

In a perfect example of time altering nothing, a year later there is a story in the newspaper about a child killed last Friday when she was crushed under the weight of the ATV she had been driving. Every year “warnings” are issued by just about every public safety and health agency under the sun alerting parents to the risks of letting their children drive ATVs and similar vehicles. Much like last year, I wonder when the unheeded “warnings” will be replaced by something a little more forceful.

Quebec provincial police and CHEO are issuing the warnings this year after an 8 year-old was killed and a 7 year-old injured when the ATV that the 8 year-old was driving rolled and crushed the older child. The 7 year-old was a passenger. No charges have been laid, but police are still talking to the woman that was “supervising” the children.

Again, I ask why in the hell children are being allowed to comandeer motorized vehicles? We don’t allow kids to drive cars on the road because we have determined that before the age of 16 they don’t have the ability to reason, the maturity or the critical judgment necessary to responsibly handle a vehicle. Frankly, it can be safely questioned whether kids have those requisite characteristics before the age of 21, nowadays. I can understand that a car is larger and that on the street the driver puts not only themselves but others at risk, but the principle remains the same; before a given age, the individual is not mature and responsible enough to be given the privilege of piloting the vehicle.

This seems so painfully simple.

Yet every year parents put their kids on ATVs, dirt bikes, jet skis and other vehicles and let them rip around til their heart’s content, and every year there are deaths. Statistics listed in the article show that, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transport, 39% of four wheeler deaths are accounted for by children under the age of 16, and 40% of the injuries. 13% of ATV deaths occurred with children under 11.

I’m not going to repeat everything I wrote a year ago; you can read all of that in that earlier post. I will reiterate that I think parents are charged with the responsibility of using their judgment in place of their child’s, because the child has not lived long enough yet to have developed a firm experiential basis for judgment and reason. Kids don’t understand mortality and risk the way adults do. Kids are more motivated by excitement and what’s “cool.” Kids don’t typically reflect rationally on whether something that appeals to them comes along with a negative enough risk or drawback to preclude them from going ahead and doing it. Simply put, children are more emotional and less rational than adults typically are. Parents have to be the voice of reason to counter and balance some of that emotional impulse.

If a parent isn’t willing to do that, they are demonstrating a lack of judgment. A dangerous lack of judgment.

No young child under the age of 10 should be put in control of a motorized vehicle. ATVs are simply the worst of the bunch, because they are that much heavier than dirt bikes. If an ATV rolls over, the kid is going to be crushed and won’t be able to push the machine off themselves. In most cases, the machine outweighs the child considerably.

Some will argue that there is a thriving motorsports industry that depends on the talent of young drivers and riders being developed from an early age. Most sports are the same in that respect. The question is how many of these young talents will be developed to this “star” status compared to the number who will be paralyzed, maimed or killed. For the one motorsport star that comes out the thousands of drivers and riders, there will be many more badly injured or killed. And those killed could have just as easily grown up to save lives as a doctor, led the nation or protected us as a lawyer or in law enforcement.

If we really want to do the right thing, we need to stop parents from insisting on putting their little snot-rags on vehicles they don’t belong on as a simple means of appeasing the child’s wishes or fulfilling some desire of the parent to pass down their own interests and passions. There should be a certification process that involves a minimum training requirement, even a weekend course, because at this point any training is better than no training. Leaving it to the parent to be responsible to teach the right habits to the kid obviously isn’t working if 8 year-olds are piling two and three at a time on ATVs that are meant for a single rider. Kids see motorized vehicles as “cool” and “exciting” toys, but adults should know better and act accordingly.

Or we can just let Darwinism take care of the problem, as we have up to now. We seem to be doing such a bang up job.

Related Posts:

  • The Fast and The Furious


    Ottawa Citizen: Children Driving ATVs ‘Recipe for disaster”: MD

    Be Sociable, Share!
  • Leave a Comment


    Mail (will not be published)