Summer days bring out the sense of outdoor adventure in all of us; and if that means off-road fun to you, you've probably already taken your ATV out for a spin or two. But when we say "spin", we hope that doesn’t mean an "upender" or other type of accident.
A new report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes that in 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, there were an estimated 107,500 ATV-related injuries seen in hospital emergency departments. Worse, between 1982 and 2011, some 11,688 people died in ATV accidents, a quarter of them children under 16 (half of them were less than 12 years old).
These are tragic numbers, so while we don’t want to spoil the fun of ATV-ing, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of safe riding and, especially, instructions for young people. This is so critical that CPSC has set up a dedicated website – ATVSafety.gov – with the blunt warning: Before you hit the trails, take knowledge to the extreme.
The site offers six key safety tips aimed at reducing the risk of accident or injury: Get trained. Don't start or allow others to ride an ATV until you/they have completed a formal, hands-on training course.
- When riding, wear protective gear at all times. A helmet is the most important piece of kit; many ATV accidents involve head injuries.
- Don't take a passenger or ride as one, unless the bike is designed for two.
- Passengers affect the weight distribution and maneuverability of ATVs.
- Don't ride your ATV on paved roads. They're not built for that and so are difficult to control on paved surfaces.
- Don’t allow kids to drive adult ATVs. Most of the child accidents in the statistics above involved kids using adult machines.
- Don't "use" and drive! Obvious, yet, alcohol and drug use are key factors in many accidents.
Finally, if you're looking to find an ATV rider course, use this link to the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America: http://tinyurl.com/atv-enroll.