RoSPA is urging parents not to rush into buying mini motorbikes and other powered toy vehicles for their children as last minute Christmas presents. They need to be sure there is somewhere the machines can be used safely before bowing to pressure from youngsters.
The Society has heard of four deaths involving mini motorbikes and fears there could be more serious accidents if people purchase them without being aware of potential problems.
Some of the bikes cost less than £150 and can travel in excess of 40mph. They are mostly illegal for road use and can only be ridden on private land with the owner's permission.
Peter Cornall, RoSPA Head of Water and Leisure Safety, said: "There is a big demand for mini motorbikes, quad bikes and powered scooters from children. Parents may be buying them without fully understanding the implications.
"The major problem is finding somewhere that they can be used without putting the rider and other innocent people in danger.
"Children may tell parents they will push the bike to their chosen riding spot, but invariably once away from parental supervision they will ride them there.
"Ideally children need to go to a course or properly organised club where they can be trained and enjoy riding rather than risk breaking the law and being injured. RoSPA is concerned that there is a lack of recognised safe places to ride."
Before buying mini-motorbikes and similar machines parents should:
- Check for local safe and legal riding places
- Be willing to transport the bike to and from such places
- Invest in appropriate safety equipment and training
There is a network of clubs across the UK which can offer training and safe riding opportunities. They can be found through the sport's governing body, the Auto Cycle Union www.acu.org.uk