Mass. First To Ban ATVs For Kids Under 14

Notice to the tens of thousands of Massachusetts families with All-Terrain Vehicles: If you were ever foolhardy enough to let children ride your ATV, those days are over.

Amid the flurry of bills passed at the end of July was one that, as of Oct. 1, makes Massachusetts the first state in the nation to declare ATVs off-limits to children under 14, the bill’s backers say. The law is nicknamed ‘Sean’s Law’ for an 8-year-old boy, Sean Kearney, who died in 2006 after an ATV accident. Sean had been on a playdate and his parents had no idea he’d be riding an ATV until they got the emergency call telling them he was on his way by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

Sean Kearney died at age 8 in an ATV accident

Dr. Peter Masiakos, a surgeon who treated Sean there, helped push for the law. “The worst part of my job is telling a parent that they’ve lost their child,” he said.

The latest figures show that about 1,000 Massachusetts children need emergency care each year because of ATV accidents, Masiakos said; one-fifth of them land in the Intensive Care Unit and 35 sustain the kind of serious brain injury that could cost $2 million in lifetime care.

Dr. Lois Lee, an emergency physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, also pushed for the law, having seen too many local children– and referrals from New Hampshire and Vermont — with their brains damaged, their limbs broken, their livers and spleens injured.

“I think parents dont’ realize that these are dangerous machines,” she said. “They’re marketed as toys but they’re as dangerous as a car. You wouldn’t let your 12-year-old drive a car with an airbag and a seatbelt, yet parents let their 12-year-olds drive a 600-pound machine on rocky terrain with no seat belt, no air bag and even no roof.”

The per-capita injury rate for ATVs is higher than for any other form of recreation, Masiakos said.
The Massachusetts law was modeled on a 2004 Nova Scotia law that cut the ATV injury rate in children by more than 50 percent, he said.

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  • Autumn Simpson

    This is a terrible thing to read. One if you weren’t there they shouldn’t have been on the atv. Two just because your kid got in to an accident doesn’t mean every kid is going to. The kids that have gotten in to accidents mainly don’t have the training and understanding of the ATV that they need. I have been on an ATV since I was 3 years old. I knew how to ride better than I knew How to walk. I have never been in an accident on mine and I am now 16 years of age and still think that ATVs are heavier Yes but if you can control yourself and your ATV then you will be in Good standing

  • atv family

    I am a atv racer and I am only 13 I race a trx200sx and have no problems handling in because I know my atv and how to control it so keep it to yourself because us racers stick together we atv racers are all one big family !!!!!!!!

  • mpro420o

    thios is a horrible sick and distcusting slap in the face to freedom americans have the right ton let there young kids ride atv’s look at any pro atv or mx rider they started at 4 or five some at 3 years old and they become legends to say that kids can handle riding smalll atv’s when there young is stupid whats next no bicycles no scooters no skate boards wtf this is insanty and liberal asshole ideaoligly at its worst how bout u liberal pussies put ur kids in a padded box im glad i live across the border in NH and i can let my 4 year old rip it up on his atv that im buying him for xmas this year this law is a violation of our right to pursue happiness have you ever seen the joy an atv or dirtbike brings a child its pricless dont take that amazing experience away i had it as a kid and i want my kids and grandkids to enjoy atvs for generations

  • massisashitstate

    wow…………..this is a joke!!!! the kids play date PARENTS, should have got PERMISSION FROM THIS KIDS PARENTS, to ride.   and then NOT let him ride without proper gear and training by himself!!!!!!!!!
    so let’s start A new Mass Law cause lord knows we don’t have enough!!!! all because of NEGLIGENCE!!!!  now we can tell our kids all the stories we want about our first bike was A 50 cc mini bike and how much fun it was and how  much it taught us to respect machines cause they AIN’T TOY’S…… NOPE! let’s  teach our kids, if a Dumb ass screws up! they will make A law to teach you that A Dumb-ass can’t except how stupid they are, so they have to point A finger!! and when some dip shit politician takes there side (cause they know all about being A dumb-ass) the law will change and Dumb-ass can Sue somebody for there (own) screw up …………I Hate Ma………nuff said         

  • Abrasiveblaster

    Let me get this right they pass a law because one set of parents went behind anothers without permission and the child was injured why should parents who buy there children safety gear and teach them to ride safely be punished by this tragedy. My daughter is four and will continue to ride her governed down quad with me watching her at all times maybe yearly drivers tests next with a large fee of course or cars that wont run until cell phones are off i ride a motorcycle daily and the texting while driving is crazy….you can pass a law on tv and anything else your rights are going away one by one every day press one for english! !!!!!!!

  • guest

    Hi i live in ma.and own an atv and got one for my son when he was 5.5 yrs old just before this stupid law came into effect. And got him all the protective gear and in that little time period where the law wasn’t in effect i taught him to ride and he did great cause i started him young on what to expect with the fisher price power wheels quad that did 5mph so when he got the real one he was good on it. and once he got the hang of it his face lit up like a christmas tree. But then the STUPID law came in effect and had to tell him that it’s against the law for you to ride his quad the hopes and his world just crumbled. Due to this law the people who made and help make this law needs to get out and on a atv to see and feel what there missing one day on one there minds would change. But also we live in a state i like to call communist wealth were there closing alot of areas to ride and making this sport and hobbie harder and harder to do. and lastly as for the boy sean that was killed my sorrow goes out for him and his family but the atv didn’t kill him inexparance and poor judgement on his play date parents they probably taught there son how to drive it with time but not his friend .

    • MASUCKS

      Why not Hockey next or football! GET REAL!!!!!!!! IT’S AN ACCIDENT!!! SAD BUT STILL AN ACCIDENT!!

  • Cbishop1914

    Easy solution to everyone’s debate. Simply avoid Massachusetts as a state to live. Move away and take away the tax dollars that keep such politicians employed. Most of the country knows how to allow their citizens to enjoy their sports utility vehicles. Visit or move to a state where you can teach your family how to enjoy the outdoors.

  • Ashley Flight

    I believe if you are a responsible parent and explain and teach your child correctly. How is the government about to try and take yet another fun thing away from people. My son is 2 1/2 and loves 4-wheelers and were planning on getting him into racing. There is protective gear use it don’t teach young children bad habits. 

  • Bergmann1

    This is the reason people are moving out of this state. Is it better for my 3 boys, ages 12, 9 and 7 to sit in front of the tv playing black ops for 4 hours, or to go out with dad for a day of riding atvs and dirtbikes?

  • smcdermott

    New law will have little effect on this wonderful sport, Facts: A)Over 26,000 OHV owners in MA (B) less than two hundred miles of trails seperated by many miles to get to any of these riding areas (4-5 locations in the state of which do not allow 4 wheelers) (C) A patrol force that is severly underfunded with no funding in site.
    Gear up and go riding its a great sport, let them make all the laws they want. Imagine an enviromental officer arresting a father and sons on the power lines because the boys are underage, only in Massachusetts, yet the local pot smoker with less than an ounce sits down town smoking a joint will get a small unenforceable fine. Lets hear it for the Govenor Hip hip you ignorant fool. Go back to work doing what you do best Killing jobs, closing companies, raising taxes, and giving jobs to your buddies. We need more people like you to cripple the system a little faster then it won’t matter what you do, we will all be in the same situation, desperate.
    Hopefully OHV owners will unite and fight the unfair, laws.

  • Loves2ride

    I have been riding since I was about 3 yrs old and I love it. For all the peolpe out there that think Quads are unsfae your dumb. If you take the time to teach your kids the right way to ride a quad when they are young there should be any problems. I have never got hurt while riding and ive been riding for about 25 years. I feel the sooner you teach you kids to ride a quad the better. Because when a young kid gets in the routine of always putting there helmet/gear on you will have a better chance of them doing it as an adult. And they will learn to respect the machine for what it is. If you put a 14 yr. old boy/girl on a quad for the first time thats when your going to have a problem. They will have no respect for the machine and do you think your going to get them to wear a helmet/gear yeah right. they are going to think they are to cool in front of there friends to wear a helmet/gear come on a 14yr old they think they know everything at that age. The ealier you get your kids on and teach them the right way to ride the better. I believe teaching them the right way to ride at a young age will help them when they start to drive a car. Atleast they will have some experience driving before they jump into a car with a ton of random people driving on the road with them. I know it helped me.

  • Guest

    Just another example of how our government is run by idiots. What I think is even sadder, is the fact that most parents are stupid to the point where laws are written and passed to protect our children because their parents are morons. So children with responsible parents are being punished for the ones who don’t.

    Let’s not forget it is all about blame! This ridiculous law shows that they chose the easy way out and are blaming the ATV and not the lack of proper adult supervision.

    Here a new law they can pass. The next time a child falls off a peddle bike or a skateboard and brakes and arm lets ban them. No here’s a better one. The child that is born and the parents are “dumb as posts” lets ban having children.

    Morons fucking morons…..

  • Lil Ziggy96

    Now I am 14 now. I have been riding since i was 5 or 6. Its a family sport we ride together. I have worn gear. i have never actually hurt myself. I took my atv safety course I have learned about my four wheeler before i went out on it. I started on an lt 80 i am not on a 250. If you are taught and understand this sport its not dangerous. If your riding with gear on and understand how to operate it there isn’t as much of a problem i can’t help what some people do on a four wheeler but i can help with the people i know. My litle brother started riding when he was 3 hes now on a 125 he is now 8 he understands how to operate it and control the fourwheeler. Don’t ruin this for my family and others like ours. Its our lives let us live them. :]

    • Lil Ziggy96

      I MEANT TO SAY NOW I AM ON A 250 BUT I ACCIDENTALLY WROTE NOT***

  • JIM#17ltr450FOXJBWALSH

    FYI – Joel Hetrick, from Hetrick Racing, just finished at the top of the pro-am ranks which is the level that it takes to step into the next level of ATV Motocross which is PRO. Hes winning races and making more money than any of you on here ever will and travels to races in a RV/Trailer that is bigger than your houses, way bigger than any semi truck. This kid doesnt even work and probly will never have to. Oh wait, he started out racing as a KID, now hes a pro. Most pro’s turn PRO by the age 16. That wouldnt be possible if this stupid law was in effect back then. ATV racing is a LIFESTYLE not a sport, so go ahead and keep putting up these stupid laws and making peoples lifes harder than it already is to live these days. I work 6 days a week just to be able to afford my $15,000+ racing ATV, and race on the weekends, its some peoples LIFE, we dont care about nothing else. Local races reach upwards of $250+ just to win, and the payout goes out to the top 5 sometimes top 10. All of our racing familes have kids riding atvs or dirtbikes by age 5. Start out young to get the most practice and get good at racing. Atvs also have THROTTLE SCREWS which LIMIT the throttle. Hmmm How about adjusting this so the ATV can only reach 5mph? And by the way, theres no seat belts because you HAVE to move around, it is the correct way to ride, lean for stability, lean back for traction, lean forwards so you do not flip back. They also make kill switches which stop the motor when you fall off. Us ATV riders actually know how to drive a car better than 99% people on the road, stupidity and common sense IS a factor. Learn to ride before you ride. I’ve been riding since 14… YEA I SAID 14, I started out on a “atv” ( QUAD) that went 75mph, I never got hurt because I was smart enough to know my limits. I love when people that know NOTHING about the sport get to make up the rules… oh well, when my kids 3 I’ll be getting ready to put a down payment on his brand new atv. And theres nothing you guys can do about it. Keep your noses in your own business and let us racers RACE and us atv riders RIDE with FAMILY !!!!!

  • guest

    It is not the machines that kill people. It’s the people you don’t know how to ride that gets killed. If you don’t know what your doing or refuse to ride the correct way… then they should stay off the ATV’s.

  • guest

    I agree with you on this. I have been riding for a while now and my childrens ages 8 and 10 also ride. We take full responsibility for our children. They have full equipments from head to toe to protect them and they have been taught to ride properly. If I knew my children couldn’t ride, I wouldn’t have them ride. I don’t believe that we should have people tell us they can’t ride in MA.

  • Pat Gifford

    We are now running our our second ATV training event for this year with 8-15 year old children. We trained 31 kids in the spring and have 32 signed up for this weekend. I agree that training is the answer when you can not do anything about the parents. We had an angry parent because we refused to enroll his 4 yr old in the class and turned down an 8 and 9 yr. old that the parents wanted to train on a 800cc machine. Our DCNR trainers try to educate but usually get hung up on for their pains. Responsible people always pay for those who were not blessed with common sense.

  • me

    who are the retard who make that law? wow youa re stupid its like removing a car from an adult there’s more death with car driving then atv’s you stupid

  • Duane Short

    I lead this fight in Illinois for years. I applaud Massachusetts for finally taking action. I just lost a 56 year old high school friend to one of these death traps. No one, at any age, is safe on these design disasters.

  • Johneoutside

    the idea is that the State has decided that children under 14 generally are not mentally and physically able to responsibly operate a big powerful motorized machine that may injure themselves, the environment or others.
    Nothing wrong with that, and based on the evidence they had a right to do this.
    Sort of the same reason as to why their is a minimum age imposed at which you can legally drink alcohol or buy cigarettes. Younger adults and children are often not mature enough to make correct decisions for themselves, so society makes these for them to help them remain safe.
    There may be some youth that can properly handle ATVs at the age of 13 and under, and perhaps this could be said of some youth that might be able to responsibly smoke or drink alcohol too. But there is enough evidence to suggest that most can not.
    We live in a society that makes rules for the greater good. These rules may be seen as restrictive to some, but they also create freedom for more. I for one am glad that I am less worried about getting run over by an untrained, unskilled, underage, unlicensed and unsafe youth operating an ATV in Mass.
    This allows me, and the majority of other people who do not choose to ride ATVs, more freedom.

    • Dogbytedave

      Sorry you are losing too. Lossing the freedom to allow your child to learn and love a great outdoor activity.

    • massisashitstate

      wow….another dumb-ass speaks it’s ass…………idiot!……to you freedom is just A word.

  • quadracer25

    seriously this is a law are you kidding me, well while they are at it they might as well ban anyone under 14 riding in a car, dirt bikes, bicycles, skate boards, roller blades, stairs, decks on the back of a house, boats, jet ski’s, walking, running, ect this is just crazy. I say the people who decided to make this a law should visit an atv national and see what this sport is about(parents who teach their kids the proper way to ride an atv)

  • concerned citizen

    Unpalatable as it may seem to some, laws that promote health and safety such as graduated licensing and mandatory seat belt use have been shown to reduce injuries beyond that which education and training can do. Laws limiting use of ATVs to children older than the age of consent to drive other motorized vehicles will also effectively reduce injuries and deaths. As a society, we invest heavily in systems and institutions to manage problems once they have occurred. We spend little on efforts to prevent problems though this is a far more effective strategy as you are well aware. This is particularly true in trauma care. Off Road Vehicles, including ATVs are as dangerous to their operators as any vehicle we allow on the highway. It stands to reason that these vehicles should be subject to at least as much regulation and control.

    • makes sense

      Well put. Now this argument makes sense.

  • Eric_j_d_14

    This law makes no sense. Children Sean’s age do not ride 600 pound atvs. The proper size for Sean would have been a little under 300 lbs. Even though this is heavy he should have been supervised. Just because some parents cant be responsible all the other responsible children and parents suffer. It will wreck an important industry and remove an option from kids lives. I guess thats what happens when our government cant solve anything and they just find some random law to pass.

  • jj

    I’am pushing for a law to make football to be a touch sport only till the age of 14 . two kids already die in GA and its only been two weeks into the season ! if we put all our kids in a box they can live forever !

  • notgivinumahyahoo!

    The real problem is that parents aren’t supervising or teaching their kids how to properly operate such machinery. ATVs don’t kill people, stupidity kills people. There are more adults getting hurt on ATVs than kids, so why don’t we just ban all of them? If you agree with this law, you’re bat-shit stupid, because you aren’t recognizing the real problem, which is you.

    • Rockrat1

      You are Correct – BAN ALL Motorized BS – especially on Federal Lands…..

    • Blsteph1963

      You are exactly right my friend. It is stupidity that kills people. The education is out there, but most people dont seem to care about nothing but unloading and going balls to the wall. Common sense is an amazing thing. I have been riding these amazing machines ever since the 80′s when they first came out. Never have I been hurt, or my kids. But I spent the time with them when they were younger to teach them the proper way to ride and to wear the proper gear. If we eliminate the morons on our sand dunes and in our forests, we will be alot safer.

  • ATV rider for life

    I have been in the ATV/Motorcycle industry for over 20 years. I have been riding them for over 30. ATV’s do not kill children. Irresponsible parents who buy too big of an atv, do not teach them proper riding, or do not give them the proper gear, are what kills kids on atv’s. It amazes me when I see this kind of behavior happen. I say something to the parents, and the reactions and responses they give me…”it’s my kid and I will do what I want”, and “stop attacking my freedom to choose not to have them in safety gear”. Or the classic “oh gear is too expensive” but they can afford thousands of dollars for a new atv.
    It is a shame for the people who ride atvs in a responsible fashion…and that includes kids who ride within their limitations and with gear…are having their freedoms imposed on. Is this not the land of the free? What do our troops fight in foreign countries for?
    I feel sorry for all the kids killed on atvs, but…do not blame an inanimate object for stupid behavior!!!

    • make some sense

      Land of the free…do not blame inanimate object for stupid behavior??? So I suppose we should let young kids carry inanimate guns to play with. God forbid we impose on the right for anyone to bear arms! Did you think of your argument before you posted it???

    • Virginia Godin

      i am a 12 year old that rides a atv and i have my dad watch me when i ride and i ride my atv with responsibility and this person is right if you are taught right and have the right safety gear and you are being very responsible i think that they should not banned it from all the children under 14 because some kids are actually being very safe when they ride their atvs, and i hope that most of these kids will step up and do get good safety gear and do get taught right because riding is like freedom and its really fun if you are doing it with responsibility and with safety :) so please don’t banned it from all the children…

  • Concerned Parent

    This is a FANTASTIC law! My only wish would be for it to be made national. ATV’s are extremely dangerous and no child under the age of 16 should ever be on one in my opinion. The so called “youth” models are just as dangerous now because they aren’t 90cc and under anymore. The new “golden rules” the ATV industry has is “best fit” which means an 8, 10 or 12 yr old can be on a 250cc which is way too heavy for a child that age, especially when that ATV tips and lands on them. ATV’s are very unstable and it does take alot of skill to ride one properly. Most children under age 16 don’t have the mental or physical skills to do that. That is why we have laws against them driving cars, so why are we allowing them to ride ATV’s! GREAT LAW MA! Now let’s get it passed in EVERY STATE!

    • Justin Glaze

      ATV’s are very unstable? What about roller blades, bicycles, or skate boards? ATV’s that come from the industry’s top manufacturers handle great and allow for riders to learn the skills of becoming a good rider. Also, when you get an ATV it comes with free training that people are encouraged to take advantage of. No ATV is marketed toward an 8 year old that is 250cc. Again please show me this “ATV’s are toy’s” ad campaign because I’d like to see it. I know several children who are aged 7+ and race 70-90cc ATV’s in National and locally sanctioned event’s and they all wear appropriate safety equipment and enjoy the sport responsibly. I will tell you that they will not be hanging up they’re helmet any time soon. If you put your little kid onto a Quad that is not appropriate for them shame on the ignorant parents! Presenting a 1 sided case to the law makers is not going to stop these idiot parents from letting they’re kids ride unsuitable ATV’s for they’re skill with little to no safety gear. Appropriate riding gear in a safe riding area on a suitable ATV is NOT a dangerous activity. I have been around ATV’s my entire life and not one has ever came out and punched a little kid in the face, just like I’ve never seen a gun prop it’s self up and shoot someone on it’s own. And riding an ATV is not a crime if you are 14 or younger!

      • crazymom

        You might want to take a look at the penalties if you break the law.

    • Dggr

      Your an Idiot!!! Get a Life

    • Tommy131

      If you teach your kid the proper riding skills then they should have no problem being able to handle an atv. I feel this is one of the stupidest laws passed so far. The atv isn’t the one that is harming children, or adults for that matter, it’s the stupidity and lack of knowledge of how to control an atv. I have been racing atv motocross for about 6 years now and you hear about more wrecks outside of the motocross world than in it. We go out and intentionally ride fast, hit 100 foot jumps, bump and bang into each other but we wear the right protective equipment, have learned the right techniques, and actually USE OUR HEADS! Even with us pretty much staring danger in the face you still hear more about the people who get hurt riding in their back yard with no helmet, no boots, or neck brace or any protective gear at all. So I seriously do not see why this should be made a law. If you don’t teach your kids the good riding skills needed then there is nobody to blame but yourselves. LET THE STUPID PEOPLE BE STUPID. (Not to affend anyone in the least!)

    • Guest

      You’re an idiot…

    • Dann6456

      Get a clue , you probably never even go outside .

    • Responsible Redneck

      Your probably a stupid yuppie who has never rode an ATV and really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I bet your kids can’t do anything fun. It’s bums like you who take all the fun and freedom out of life.

  • Yz128y

    It is aweful what happened to this kid. Banning ATV’s for kids because unfortunate situations like this are not the answer. Please show me an ad for an ATV that market’s them as “toy’s” to kids ATV’s are not marketed as “toy’s” and Youth ATV’s which are appropriately sized for kids that are 8 years old don’t even go over 20 mph and weigh under 200 pounds with big signs right on them that say to use only under supervision of an adult in a safe riding area. Bad parenting shouldn’t be grounds for labeling ATV’s as dangerous. Do gun’s kill people? Simply putting a blanket ban on ATV’s making it illegal for those riders/family’s who enjoy riding under 14 is ridiculous. I’m sorry but if you think it’s a good idea to put a seat belt on an ATV you obviously have know idea what you are talking about. You need to be able to lean into corners and stand up over rough terrain. Only the biggest ATV’s on the market weigh over 600 pounds and are marketed for riders over 16 (also plastered all over the machine). If there are parent’s who let their 12 year olds ride machines that are not appropriate for them that is unfortunate. I have been riding ATV’s since I was 8 years old and now run a business within the industry and have years of first hand experience riding, maintaining, and selling products for ATV’s including Youth ATV’s and it is a great way to spend time with your family/friends in the out doors.

    • Paul McMahon

      It is very unfortunate that this boy died, and also sad that the mother was not aware of what her child was doing.. But for our Lawmakers to pass this law, is the real problem. They set out to destroy a whole industry without having all the facts..
      I do not enjoy watching 4 year old drive these little atvs at all, but after a few lessons with parental supervision they become well qualified very fast. I think we need to evaluate the effectiveness of our lawmakers and get rid of a few of the useless ones. The next law they are working on is no cell phones for kids under 12…… and we have Pot Farms being set up everywhere and a few of our law makers are investing in them Wow we heading for real trouble…