Kids of all ages love to ride on ATV’s (All-Terrain Vehicle, 3 or 4 wheels). Before you hit the trail, however, there’s a lot to think about, safety being primary. ATV accidents cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of emergency room visits yearly.
In our area not too long ago, a couple riding together on an ATV out in the country were unable to stop when they suddenly turned onto a road and hit the back of a dump truck. The driver of the truck saw them coming from a side road and tried to veer out of the way, but they were coming pretty fast. When the ATV driver tried to stop, the girl was thrown off the ATV and hit the back of the truck. The rider was not hurt but the girl lost her life. If they had been more aware of the risks involved, maybe this could have been avoided.
Here’s some Do’s and Don’t’s that could make a difference:
- Get properly trained. Drivers that have had formal training have a lower risk of injury.
- Always wear protective gear. Head injuries are a risk, so you should purchase a helmet that is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Snell Memorial Foundation, or American National Standards Institute.
- Wear other types of clothing such as ankle boots, goggles, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. They help avoid cuts and abrasions, as well as injuries from rocks, trees, and other debris.
- Be sure the ATV fits you like a glove. Many accidents are caused because an ATV is too large for the rider. Grip reach, throttle reach, and brake reach are very important. There should be the right clearance between the seat and your inseam to stand up to properly absorb shock while riding in rough terrain. Clearance should be 3” to 6” when standing. Get advice from the dealer to be sure you choose the right size.
- Go by ATV Safety Institute recommendations for appropriate age/engine size: Age 6 and older to 70 cc’s; Age 12 and older to 90 cc’s, and Age 16 and older to 90 cc’s and up.
- Take kids on adult ATV’s. One-third of all ATV-related deaths and emergency room injuries are kids. Those under age 16 that ride on adult ATV’s are twice as likely to be hurt as those who ride youth ATV’s.
- Ride tandem. Most ATV’s are designed to carry only one person, who is able to shift weight more freely in all directions. Interactive riding is critical to maintain safe control, especially on varying terrains. Passengers make it hard for the driver to control the vehicle.
- Ride on pavement; it is very difficult to control an ATV on paved roads and there’s the threat of collision with cars or other vehicles. Many fatal ATV accidents happen on paved roads.
- Ride under the influence of drugs/alcohol; reaction time and judgment are impaired, plus, it’s illegal.
ATV’s do not handle the same as a motorcycle. Most savvy riders will acknowledge that knowing how to properly drive either an ATV or motorcycle through getting the right training is very important. You wouldn’t put a kid in a car and tell him to put it in Drive and take off, would you? The old saying of “sink or swim” doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Take the time to learn “safety first”, and you’ll have hours and hours of fun while “riding like the wind!”