Another North Country child dies on an ATV

I know it infuriates people when I highlight these horrific deaths (read more of the on-going In box discussion here) but it seems important to keep discussing and debating just how deadly these machines are for children.

According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, 12-year-old Dylan Bilow from Bombay was killed on Tuesday when he turned his Arctic Cat 4-wheeler in front of an on-coming truck.

“Bilow, who was wearing a helmet, was rushed to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone but was pronounced dead upon his arrival,” the newspaper reported.

There is a long-established conviction among doctors and pediatricians that children under the age of 18 simply shouldn’t be riding ATVs.

The machines are too heavy and too powerful.  Many of the kids who die are trapped under their 4-wheelers and literally suffocate to death.

Every year, several Upstate New York children are killed or permanently and brutally injured by these machines.

In this case, apparently, the 12-year-old was driving on a public road. State police told the Press Republican that they are investigating.

Meanwhile, this website, organized by Concerned Families for ATV Safety, offers a lot of background information for parents considering buying a 4-wheeler for a child.

31 Comments on “Another North Country child dies on an ATV”

  1. Bret4207 says:

    I can tell you stories that would sicken you about kids and ATVs. The really sad part is the parents think of it as a toy. It never ceases to amaze me that someone living in a village will buy an ATV and give it to their kid to ride and then profess no knowledge that the kid was riding down the highway to the woodlot or farmers field he tore up. Where did they think he was going to ride?!

    These are tools, just like any other tools. It the responsibility of the parent to maintain adequate control of the machine and to bear the costs associated with it’s misuse. I can tell you it’s darn near impossible to catch an ATV in a police car. I chased one at over 80 mph right down ST 37 one evening! Off into the brush he went and that was the end of that.

    We don’t own one. It would sure be handy on the farm, but they’re expensive and I can still see too many dead kids faces to think it couldn’t happen to us.

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  2. Molly says:

    Perhaps an age-limit of 16 instead of 18? Most 16-year olds are beginning to drive cars and learning the rules of the road, and should know to look both ways before turning a vehicle of any kind.
    I feel terrible for Billow’s family, and even worse for the truck driver who hit Billow.

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  3. Bret4207 says:

    Molly, there are very few public roads open to ATV travel, and no State roads that I’m aware of. We’re talking a tiny number of roads that are legal for ATV travel. Of course, that doesn’t mean people don’t use the roads for ATV travel. I met a kid that looked to be 14-15 yoa on ST 11 just outside of Philadelphia a couple days ago doing a good 55 mph.

    I suppose ticketing the parents for allowing unsupervised or underage operation would help with the ones you catch before they kill themselves.

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  4. jill vaughan says:

    The other night, coming home from work, I saw a child about 5, with a toddler on his lap, being chased around the house by a child about 4. No parents in evidence. I almost stopped and turned around, then didn’t… should I? I don’t know.

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  5. Mervel says:

    I wonder about the same thing. Maybe a couple of police calls would make a difference? Most people don’t want child protective services involved in their lives. A 5 year old on an ATV alone is neglect.

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  6. Bret4207 says:

    Well, I can tell you the sticky part with calling the cops is identification. Yes, in Jills case it’s not so hard, but it’s much more common to get a complaint of “…ATVs in the road…” and not much else. Of course the police tend to favor the complainant actually sticking around and making a Deposition as to what they saw. Most people aren’t willing to get that involved. After all, it’s their property, their kids, their business.

    Do what you think is right.

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  7. Distinguishedredneck says:

    I think the important part here is to aim the blame in the correct direction. These cases are the parents fault, no other way to look at it. Parents are responsible for their kids at least until they 18. It has been said, but it is the parents responsibility to teach safety or restrict use.
    It is not the ATV’s fault or the manufacturers fault. These machines should be purchased with a known end use, be it recreation or work/chores.

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  8. Bret4207 says:

    Redneck is correct, it’s just a tool. Doesn’t matter if it’s an ATV, a baseball bat, swimming pool or pocket knife. People can misuse things and the responsibility lands with the parent if there a kid involved. That’s kind of sad because the parent just wants his kid to have a little fun. Really stinks when you watch them deal with their kids death.

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  9. rdnkwmn24 says:

    Bret, I belong to an ATV club and there are no state roads that are legally open, or any state land for that matter. If anyone looks at the sticker on the 4-wheeler it is for people age 16 or older. This 12 year old should not have been driving it at all say anything about on the road. I have not heard anything said about if he had a helmet on or not. He should have had one on but not always do they wear them. I live on a state road in the middle of a town and the kids fly by here all the time with no helmets so it is only a matter of time before it happens here as well. I still limit my son when he rides and he is 15 and has had the ATV safety course which is offered free of charge a couple times a year. He does not leave this yard without his helmet and he does not go down any roads, he may have to cross them but not down them. no I am not saying my kid does anything wrong but from what I have seen and actually heard from other town residents is they have never seen him racing or screwing around and always has his helmet on.

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  10. Bob says:

    There are laws. It is up to law enforcement officers to enforce the laws on everyone.

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  11. Brian Mann says:

    I have a couple of thoughts about all this.

    First, I do think manufacturers (and ATV clubs to some extent) need to rethink their approach to how they deal with kids and 4-wheelers.

    Put bluntly, 4-wheelers are not a healthy “family sport,” as they are often marketed.

    Kids under the age of 16 (at a minimum) shouldn’t be anywhere near them.

    So by definition, your kids shouldn’t be allowed to ride with you until — well until they’re almost not kids anymore.

    The idea that you’re following best practices by allowing your 15-year-old to ride after taking a safety course is — even according to the manufacturers — wrong.

    According to the manufacturers, kids under the age of 16 shouldn’t be riding adult-sized machines.

    (Again, doctors think the corporations that market and sell these machines are being irresponsible even with those restrictions — they think ATVs are bad for kids, period.)

    I’m not down on ATV-riding as a sport, except where children are involved.

    My solution? Buy them a bicycle. It’s better exercise, it’s safer, it’s cheaper, and it’s something you can do with your kids at any age.

    -Brian, NCPR

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  12. Bret4207 says:

    Comon Brian, if we go with that type of thinking then nothing is safe. Far more kids are hurt and killed on bicycles than ATVs each year. A swimming pool is deadly and trampolines should be outlawed. How many are killed, injured and maimed playing sports each year, how many are electrocuted, burned or poisoned with household items? Putting a kid on a horse, in a kayak or canoe or on a skateboard would be grounds for Child Endangerment charges if we follow that line of thinking.

    Once again it comes down to personal responsibility. If a parent wants to let a kid ride an ATV then it’s their responsibility to ensure the kid is doing it appropriately and safely. It’s a tool. If Mom, Dad, Sissy and little Bobby want to ride an ATV and they do it safely then what business is it of ours!??? If Dad’s got a load on and Mom is stoned on prescription meds and they kill Sissy and Bobby then arrest them and put them in prison.

    Dang man. Like I said, I don’t own one either, but legislating everything to death isn’t an answer.

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  13. Bret4207 says:

    ” Bob says:
    May 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    There are laws. It is up to law enforcement officers to enforce the laws on everyone.”

    Is this the same Bob that only wants cops to work on “real crime”?

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  14. Brian Mann says:

    Bret – I don’t have a problem with a 14 year old kid using an ATV to work on his parents’ farm. That’s a tool.

    What I do have a problem with is a huge corporation marketing these machines aggressively as “family friendly” toys that parents should buy for their kids.

    It’s true that more kids are injured on bicycles every year, but only because far far far more kids are riding bicycles.

    The injury-per-rider rate for ATVs is much higher; and when accidents happen the injuries are typically far, far more severe.

    I think this is a business-conscience issue, as much as a government or parenting issue.

    Every time a store owner sells one of these machines, knowing it’s for a 13-year-old boy, he should fess up to the fact that he’s doing something morally wrong.

    Similarly, I don’t think ATV clubs should be saying to parents, “We’ll teach your boy how to ride safely.”

    I think the message should be, “Your boy is too young. We strongly encourage you to keep him on bicycles for another couple of years until he’s strong enough and has the decision making skills to ride safely.”

    Sadly, that’s not happening.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  15. Nobes27X says:

    Brian,
    Name for me if you can one add that shows a picture/video of a child riding an adult ATV. Or even suggests that it is a good idea for this to happen? There aren’t any, it is, as it has already been stated, up to the parents.

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  16. Bret4207 says:

    But if the 12 or 14 year old on the farm is using it safely, then is it industries fault if the 12 or 14 year old off the farm isn’t? No, that’s the parents fault if they aren’t keeping an eye on Junior. And unless the store owner has some crystal ball that lets him know the future, how is that morally wrong? Not every kid with an ATV/dirt bike/paint ball gun is going to misuse it. Some do, kids will be kids and that’s where the parent comes in.

    If a law is being broken, fine, slam them. But just how far into our lives do you want Gov’t to intrude? We already have laws regarding these that cover every complaint I’ve heard. This latest tragedy was a kid who wasn’t supposed to be riding unsupervised on a road meant for cars, doing something illegal. I can appreciate the frustration but there comes a point where you move from a basically free society into…..a police state. No other way to put it.

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  17. Brian Mann says:

    What’s interesting here, Bret, is that I’m the one arguing the more conservative-libertarian model and you’re the one arguing for a more police-nanny state solution.

    I’m not suggesting that these machines should be banned for children.

    I’m making the argument that groups that support ATV riding — clubs, shops, manufacturers — should do the right thing without a new law or regulatory crackdown.

    I completely agree that parents also play a role here.

    But if an ATV group approaches people and suggests that this is a family friendly activity — the main thrust of advertising these days — they’re taking on a big chunk of moral responsibility.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  18. Bret4207 says:

    No, you’re arguing they have a moral responsibility to stop selling these horribly dangerous toys. That’s hardly a libertarian view. I’m arguing that if we have free choice then let the parents bear the responsibility of their decision and any fines or other costs that go with it. And yes, if that means their kid dies, then as horrible as that is it was their choice and their responsibility. Until someone can prove that ATVs (or any other item)are fundamentally unsafe when used according to law, regulation, manufacturers suggestion and the rules of common sense or require some special training to be used properly then I see no need for further restrictions.

    Look at your own argument and tell me it’s anything like libertarian-

    “…Every time a store owner sells one of these machines, knowing it’s for a 13-year-old boy, he should fess up to the fact that he’s doing something morally wrong.

    Similarly, I don’t think ATV clubs should be saying to parents, “We’ll teach your boy how to ride safely.”

    I think the message should be, “Your boy is too young. We strongly encourage you to keep him on bicycles for another couple of years until he’s strong enough and has the decision making skills to ride safely.”

    It can be a safe and enjoyable family activity. Admittedly that family is going to be on the upper end of the income scale, at least in my world, but it’s only when they get misused that we seem to have issues beyond the normal skinned knees and what not. I hear the same argument about letting kids play certain sports (you’ll teach him to be too aggressive, he could get hurt!), to shoot a bow or gun (you’re training him to kill, he’ll shoot himself!), using a chainsaw or other power tools (He’ll cut off his leg!), even to learn to march in a parade in step (You’re training him to be a soldier!!!) Now these are things I’ve heard first hand and none of them have any more merit than the argument you’re making. We already have laws in place regarding the operation of ATVS, snowmobiles, jet skis, even horses. Do we need to outlaw everything that can possibly hurt us? Again, I go back to pools, sports, trampolines, bicycles. You’re proposing a huge intrusion into the lives of the owners of ATVs. As I said, I don’t own one I don’t really want one, but the principal is wrong IMO.

    If I could keep another kid from dying on an ATV or anywhere else I would Brian. I can still feel a 14 yoa kids ribs cracking under my hands during CPR after he tried to cross ST 12 in Hammond. He’d been doing it all day and just didn’t see the car coming. And I can still see the look on his Dads face. As horrible as that is, and trust me it was horrible, it was their decision to let the kid ride without seeing what he was doing. I’m sure they have to live through that everyday and I’d change it if I could, but other than just plain outlawing everything that can possibly hurt us how do prevent tragedies like that?

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  19. bob says:

    Bret I imagine you’d be the first one to pull over and ticket someone who didn’t have a helmet on riding their Harley. But the kid who isn’t wearing a helmet on their bike well now that’s the parents responisbility. Bull puky

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  20. buddy says:

    I agree with the argument, that parents should do a better job of training and controlling their children, It seems like many parents just use ATVs to babysit their kids for them. I’ve had 3 wheelers and then 4 wheelers, and they are a great Tool and a joy to have when you need one, Having said that ,they can be Dangerous just like many many things can be, if not used properly.

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  21. Bret4207 says:

    Bob, go re-read my post and you’ll note I repeatedly stress their being used legally and safely. Of course helmets should be worn, heck my kids are made to wear helmets on their bikes and skateboards. That’s common sense and the law, and it’s the parents responsibility to ensure their kids are dong what, in their judgment, is safe. I don’t actually know of any person who ever was ticketed for not having their kid wear a bike helmet, but it is the law last I knew.

    BTW- it’s bull pucky, puky.

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  22. Bob says:

    Let’s try it this way. a store owner sells cigs. he collects taxes for NYS. It’s the law. If he does not people come knocking and will fine him. Another store owner sells cigs to non-natives and refuses to collect taxes. It is the law that they collect taxes, but they don’t. No one comes knocking, no fines, nothing. But I see commercials all the time for “click it or ticket” Why no spots for collect the taxes or you will be fined and jailed? It is the law Mr lawman. Enforce it. It is a crime that hurts honest business owners and causes an unlevel playing field in your free enterprise system. Now someone not wearing a helmet, they are only hurting themself (with the exception of the business they did not buy a helmet from) It is the same with the Az. law that has been in the news of late. There are plenty of laws now for illegal immigration. enforce them. gun laws same deal. I could go on all day. Face it selective enforcement by LEO is wrong and it goes on all the time.

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  23. Bret4207 says:

    Bob, the tax collection on the rez is a political decision. Been a political issue for decades. You need to take that up with the NYS tax dept and the Governor. Were I betting man I’d be betting money that you’ll be seeing some action in that area pretty quick anyway. I just hope no one gets killed over taxes. Somehow I don’t imagine it’ll be the NYS Tax Dept leading the charge into the 30 and 50 caliber machine guns our friendly native American brothers “don’t have”.

    I agree with you completely on immigration, gun laws, etc. We need more gun laws like Rosey O’Donnell needs more Oreos. And illegal immigration is ILLEGAL- PERIOD! All Arizonas law allows is for enforcement of laws already on the books.

    Lets remember something about selective enforcement though Bob, there are still adultery laws on the books in NYS. There are laws regarding all sorts of things we just don’t think about anymore- fencing, disposal of dead horses, disposition of poultry…lots of other stuff I’ve forgotten. Sometimes it’s best to just leave some things alone.

    BTW- I’m long retired. A working cop couldn’t get on a board like this and speak freely without getting in biggggg trouble.

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  24. Bob says:

    BretI think we probably do agree on most things. And one is that NYS needs to cut back. everywhere. That includes law enforcement officers when I from Lake Placid Albany and see 6 blue and golds (So there were probably 3 others I didn’teven see. That is waste. We can’t afford it anymore. And oh yeah a law is a law and I want them enforced on everyone. Even troopers

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  25. turtleclimber says:

    I have to say something about this. I am an ATV owner and grew up driving them. (Brace yourself) I was driving them when I was nine. And I’m still here, free of life changing injuries, too. Why? Well, I guess that goes back to the parent thing discussed here. My father spent a great deal of time discussing the dangers and proper handling of these machines. My siblings and I respected my father, so we followed his rules. This is how it is done. It doesn’t happen in all families, but that’s another problem, but not the manufacturers fault.
    My family also hunted, fished, played sports, jumped on trampolines and swam in pools. Could we have been hurt? Sure, but we could have lived in a sanitary, bubble-wrapped protective barrier all our life. That’s no life.
    I grew up on a farm and we used this tool often, but we enjoyed life too. Today, all my siblings are successful in life. We have never been arrested for a crime, have good marriages and have good jobs. While we were doing all the things above, we weren’t sitting around looking for things to do, like getting into trouble or trying drugs. We were too busy having fun. Yes this is a “family friendly” activity.
    Could we have been hurt or killed. Sure, but I could be killed typing this if a drunk driver passes the stop sign at the end of the street and crashes through the house. Life is dangerous. I’m a parent myself now. Sure I want to protect my children and keep them safe, but I also want to teach them to respect and understand these machines, rather than go to a friend and find it out the hard way.

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  26. Bret4207 says:

    Turtle, amazing what common sense and parental responsibility will do, eh?

    Bob, I want a lot of things I’m not likely to get too. Placid to Albany and you saw 6 Troop cars? Huh, imagine that on a major north-south interstate. Sarcasm aside, people are retiring and no new hires are coming, the numbers will drop. I’m pretty sure the State wants to save the money too.

    As for your last line, it happens, you just don’t hear a lot about it. Nothing irks me more than seeing a cop driving down the road talking on a cell phone. I used to throw a fit about that and some other things that you’d find irritating. The young kiddies just couldn’t grasp the idea. Call it ego, call it hubris, call it a cranial-rectal inversion. Things like that drive me nuts too.

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  27. Cathy5843 says:

    April of 2009 my Grandson was just 18 months old. He was on a 4 wheeler with his father in front of him. At his father mothers house (grandmas). The little didn’t have a helment on and the father hit a bump and the baby came down on the handle bars with his head. The baby ended up in Syracuse Hospital with fuild on the brain and a broken wrist. They took the kids away from my daugther saying she was a unfit mother thinking she was the reason for the problem with the baby. Because the father said nothing happen in his care. Well 6 months later it came out that it was a accident that happen on a 4 wheeler. Because word of mouth got out from family members of his started talking and told other people really what had happen. Well today June 1st 2010 he is in court for sentencing on what is going to happen to him.(I hope they throw the book at him) But in the long run my daugther got her kids back and the baby is fine he does have some speach problems. They are working on them has a speach teacher comes in 2 times a week.

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  28. Bret4207 says:

    Cathy, my thoughts and prayers will be with your grandson, and I hope the father gets what he deserves.

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  29. Pete says:

    About a year ago I was traveling on a side road in Colton doing about 50 mph. I had an ATV pull out of a driveway right in front of me and then pulled away from me! There was an ‘adult’ driving with about an eight year old on the back holding on for dear life, neither had a helmet on. About 2 miles down the road the ATV slowed to turn into a driveway and I saw there was a smaller child about 2 years old sitting on the gas tank in front of the adult. Say what you want but that ‘parent’ will not respect any rules and will wonder who to blame or se when things go wrong. Here is a machine made for one with three riding on it with no helmets down the middle of a town county road.

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  30. T.L.Barber says:

    Great discussion/read!! Lots of valuable views, but as a retired educator who’s seen most everything…the parents are a large percentage of the ATV responsibility problem…no doubt about it!

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  31. tin says:

    I think this is sad sentiment on the safety issues of ATVs. Though I really think that such things can be minimized by installing the right safety accessories and parts, such as the Cobra ATV Parts

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