This case involves a man who suffered extensive injuries after test driving an ATV. On the date of the incident in question, the man had arrived at the ATV dealership intending to purchase an ATV for use on his cattle ranch. The man had never driven an ATV before, yet he was allowed to test drive several ATVs on the dealership’s dirt test track. At some point, the salesperson pressured the man into test driving a much more powerful model of ATV, urging him to drive aggressively to demonstrate the vehicle’s capabilities. During the test drive, the man took a turn too aggressively, causing the ATV to roll. The Plaintiff suffered serious, life-changing injuries in the accident, and will require a lifetime of ongoing care.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Are you familiar with the proper steps and protocols that need to be followed when engaging a new client and offering a test drive of an ATV?
- 2. Do you have experience offering a safe test drive experience to potential buyers?
- 3. Should previous ATV operation experience be assessed before a test drive is commenced?
Expert Witness Response E-042086
I sell both ATVs and Utility Task Vehicles (also known as “Side by Side” vehicles) at a large recreational sports vehicle dealership. The model of vehicle that the man was driving at the time of this accident is actually a UTV, and these vehicles need much more training than traditional ATVs to be used safely. When offering a test drive of any vehicle at our store, either myself or another trained employee will test the vehicle first and then familiarize the customer with the controls and proper operational mechanisms. For UTVs specifically, we never let a customer test drive themselves. We will, however, take them on a test drive as a passenger. UTVs are multi-rider vehicles and have seat belts. Seat belts on these vehicles must be worn at all times because if you take a wide turn, you will get thrown from the vehicle. UTVs are much heavier than ATVs as well, and can cause significant damage to an individual if it rolled over. It is clear that the dealership in this case was treating safety as an afterthought.