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Safety tips for ATV riders?

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Four-wheel all terrain vehicles (ATVs) are popular recreational and work vehicles for millions of Americans. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that between 1997 and 2001, the number of ATV riders increased 36 percent, from 12 million to more than 16 million. During this five-year period, ATV riding time increased 50 percent to almost 2,400 million hours annually. With this increase in popularity, annual ATV injuries jumped 104 percent, from less than 50,000 to almost 112,000. Excessive speed and loss of control are the common reasons for ATV accidents, and there are specific groups of riders more prone to injuries. These groups include youth under the age of 16, inexperienced operators during their first year of driving and recreational riders. Parents should make sure children are properly trained before riding ATVs and supervise them when they ride. Consider these safety guidelines for ATV riders. • Ride at a controlled speed. This should be done within the operator’s abilities and within the capabilities of the machine.

• Wear appropriate safety equipment. This includes a helmet, shatter-resistant eye protection, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and boots that cover ankles. Utah law requires riders under the age of 18 to wear helmets.

• Make sure drivers are licensed or certified. Utah law requires ATV operators to have a driver’s license, or, for youth under the age of 16, a safety education certification earned by completing an ATV course. Only youth 8 years and older may legally operate an ATV on public lands, and youth under the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult when operating an ATV.

• Do not carry a passenger unless the ATV is designed to do so.

• Do not travel on paved roads. ATVs are not designed to operate on pavement.

• Be cautious when riding in the dark. Because visibility is decreased, operators should drive slowly and carefully.

• As with any vehicle, drivers should not operate ATVs when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Regularly maintain ATVs to ensure safe operation.

For a brochure on ATV safety and training, contact the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation Off Highway Vehicle Education office at 801-538-7433 or 800-OHV-RIDE. The brochure, Highlights from Utah Off-Highway Vehicle Laws and Rules is also available at www.stateparks.utah.gov/ohv/laws.htm. It describes the requirements for ATV registration, age and education, equipment, helmets, safety, courtesy, ethics and appropriate and prohibited riding locations in Utah. For assistance concerning ATV registration, contact a Utah Division of Motor Vehicles office or call 801-297-7780 or 1-800-DMV-UTAH.

Posted on 16 Oct 2003

Richard Beard
Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Specialist

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