As we come out of our winter hibernation and the buttercups signal the new spring season ahead, many of us are itching to get out in the woods and enjoy our favorite pastime. Along with this fun comes personal responsibility. With more than 800 deaths and 135,000 injuries occurring each year, ATV safety is a critically important issue for communities and riders across the country. About one-third of ATV-related deaths and injuries are to children under 16 years old. Like other activities involving high speeds and heavy machinery, riding an ATV can be dangerous and certain behaviors will increase the risk of injury or death.
The ATV Safety Institute's Golden Rules:
- Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves. Many ATV injuries are head injuries. Wearing a helmet may prevent or reduce the severity of these injuries. In addition, wear over-the-ankle boots, goggles, gloves, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt to protect against cuts, abrasions, and other injuries from rocks, trees and other debris.
- Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law - another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway. ATVs are very difficult to control on paved roads. Collisions with cars and other vehicles have also led to many fatalities involving ATVs operated on paved roads.
- Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs impair reaction time and judgment, two essential skills for safe ATV use.
- Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people. Nearly all ATVs are designed to carry only one person. ATVs are designed for interactive riding – drivers must be able to shift their weight freely in all directions, depending on the situation and terrain. Interactive riding is critical to maintaining safe control of an ATV especially on varying terrain. Passengers can make it very difficult for drivers to control the ATV.
- Ride an ATV that's right for your age. Children are involved in about 30 percent of all ATV-related deaths and emergency room-treated injuries. Most of these deaths and injuries occur when a child is driving or riding on an adult ATV. Children younger than 16 are twice as likely to be injured on adult ATVs as compared to those riding youth ATVs.
- Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys. About one-third of ATV-related deaths and injuries are to children under 16 years old.
- Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
- Take a hands-on ATV RiderCourseSM and the free online E-Course. Visit ATVsafety.org or call 800.887.2887.
Happy safe riding everyone!