ATVs have always been known for their risk of rollover. These three or four wheeled vehicles are used for recreational purposes such as "off-roading" and even riding on smooth terrain. Many of these ATVs weigh as much as a quarter of a ton and are designed to accelerate to speeds of up to 55 MPH. 75% of ATV accidents cause very serious damage to the spinal cord or the head of the drivers and passengers of ATVs, making head injuries the primary cause of lifelong physical disabilities and injuries that can be life threatening. As for spinal cord injuries, they can result in lifelong paralysis of part or all of the victim's body.
However, almost all ATVs are accident prone, but the Yamaha Rhino ATV has a higher incidence of rollover accidents compared to other ATVs. The Yamaha Rhino is also known to produce even more serious injuries and has a higher likelihood of resulting in death. According to critics, the reason for this is because the vehicle is top heavy with narrow tires. Such a design makes rollover more likely when making a turn, even when traveling at slow speeds on level surfaces. Also, the Rhino's design offers no protection for the legs of the passengers, which means even further injuries are likely with the Rhino. Injuries such as crushed or broken legs are definitely not an oddity when a rollover incident occurs with this ATV. There have actually been cases in which accident victims have had to have limbs amputated. If children are involved, the accidents are most likely to be fatal.
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It was 2007 when the issue was taken more seriously by Yamaha and the company began offering their free modifications. The modifications included adding handholds and doors to the Rhino. However, as of February 2008, Yamaha has yet to issue a recall or offer refunds to Rhino owners. As of now, it is not known if the free modifications that Yamaha performed on these Rhino ATVs in 2007 will have an impact on the safety of the passengers. Nevertheless, there are still a number of lawsuits being filed against Yamaha for their alleged lack of seriousness in the matter when rollovers began occurring in the vehicles as early as 2003.
By Ginger Gillenwater