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Child Safety Recommendations for Vehicles

Parents: Protect Your Kids is part of an ongoing awareness campaign aimed at educating parents and children. Developed by the Miami-Dade Police Department, this initiative focuses on parents and their responsibilities to their children concerning specific recreational vehicles.

Throughout the United States, numerous youth fatalities and injuries have resulted from improper use of off-road vehicles.  Many of these accidents stem from their illegal use on public roadways and sidewalks. Parents and guardians should strictly monitor and supervise such activities involving minors. The following facts and information are offered as safety guidelines: 

Safety Recommendations

Use of off-road recreational vehicles by minors should be under adult supervision. 
Most off-road vehicles are not equipped with lights and reflectors. Therefore, operation should only occur during daylight hours or in a well-lighted area.

Helmets, gloves, goggles, and knee pads should be worn. 
Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and over-the-ankle boots offer protection from minor injury and sunburn.

Most off-road vehicles are designed for single-operator use. Drivers should not ride with passengers. 
Riding along with another person (the buddy system) on their own vehicle is suggested for additional safety.

Make sure that the vehicle selected is appropriate for the size and abilities of the child.

As of July 1, 2008, while operating an off-highway vehicle, a person who has not attained 16 years of age must have in his or her possession a certificate evidencing the satisfactory completion of an approved off-highway vehicle safety course in this state or another jurisdiction. A nonresident who has not attained 16 years of age and who is in this state temporarily for a period not to exceed 30 days is exempt from this subsection. F.S. 261.20.

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

ATVs are motorized off-highway vehicles 50 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 900 pounds or less, designed to travel on three or more low pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, and intended for use by either a single operator, or by an operator and a rider.  Riders may only ride on ATVs designed for two riders. F.S.316.2074(2);  F.S. 261.20(5)(a).  Off-highway vehicles must be equipped with a silencer if used on public lands. F.S. 261.20(4)(c).

ATV courses and training are available through agencies such as the ATV Safety Institute web site:, 1-(800) 887-2887, and motorcycle training is available through the National Safety Council web site:, 1-(800) 621-7619. According to F.S. 316.2123, the operation of an ATV, upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited, except that an ATV may be operated during the daytime on an unpaved roadway where the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour. 

Any ATV operation that is permitted under F.S. 316.2123 may be undertaken only by a licensed driver or a minor who is under the direct supervision of a licensed driver.  The operator must provide proof of ownership upon the request of a law enforcement officer. No person under the age of 16 years of age shall operate, ride, or be otherwise propelled on an ATV unless the person wears a safety helmet meeting United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) standards and eye protection.  F.S. 316.2074(3). Operating an off-highway vehicle on public lands while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or any prescription or over-the-counter drug that impairs vision or motor condition is prohibited. Operators of off-highway vehicles on public lands under the age of 16 must wear a helmet, eye protection and over-the-ankle boots.  F.S. 261.20(5).

According to F.S. 316.2074(4), if a crash results in the death of any person or in the injury of any person which results in treatment of the person by a physician, the operator of each ATV involved in the crash shall give notice of the crash pursuant to F.S. 316.066. A violation of F.S. 316.2074 is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation. Any person who violates F.S. 261.20 is subject to a fine and may have their privilege to operate an ATV on public lands revoked.

Motorized Scooters and Miniature Motorcycles

Motorized scooters are defined as any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground. Motorized scooters are also called "go-peds." Miniature motorcycles are small two wheel vehicles that resemble full size motorcycles. They are also called "pocket bikes" and "Baby Ninjas." Miniature motorcycles do not fit into the legal definition of a motorcycle. Motorized scooters and miniature motorcycles are not legal to operate on public roads or sidewalks of this state. F.S. 316.2128.

Toy Cars

Any battery or gas-powered, two or four wheeled replica of a vehicle. These vehicles are popular with young children. Parents must provide safe areas for children to drive toy cars, since they are not allowed on the road. Protective helmets and clothing are recommended.


Every person who operates a motor vehicle, every passenger in the front seat, and all persons under the age of 18, whether driving or not, must wear either a seat belt or child restraint device. If the driver is under 18, everyone must be restrained. F.S. 316.614.
Operators of motor vehicles transporting a child 5 years of age or younger on the roadways, streets or highways of this state shall utilize a crash-tested, federally-approved, child-restraining device. For children 3 years of age or younger, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.  For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a seat belt may be used.  F.S. 316.613(1)(a).

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:33:41 PM

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