When Riding ATVs – ALWAYS THINK VIGILANCE

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By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

There is no question why ATV safety has been one of the most popular lessons taught at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. Unfortunately, day-after-day the news is filled with ATV incidents resulting in either severe injury or death. In rural areas, ATVs are extremely popular whether used for leisure riding or for work on farms. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on average 144 children die each year due to an ATV-related incident. In 2012, more than 100,000 ATV-related injuries were reported from emergency departments and 25% of those injuries were from children under the age of 16.

We all know that ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle; however, a better reminder to keep safe while riding is to consider ATV as Always Think Vigilance. In several ATV incidents, the rider was likely very confident and thought, “nothing will happen to me” or “I am only going on a short ride, no need for a helmet.” For younger riders, who are often thrill seekers, they can feel invincible. We also see many children operating ATVs that are too big for them or riding as a passenger. Passengers impair the driver’s ability to shift weight in order to steer and control the ATV.

Paying attention, being alert and taking all safety precautions are a must when operating an ATV! Here are a few tips to stay safe while riding ATVs:

  1. Before operating an ATV, carefully read the owner’s manual and understand the safety features including lights, front & rear brakes and the engine stop switch.
  2. Take a certified ATV training course.
  3. Wear protective equipment including:
  • Properly fitted helmet that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards.
  • Eye protection including goggles or a face shield to protect the eyes without obstructing the fields of vision.
  • Appropriate clothing including long pants, long-sleeved shirt, over-the-ankle low heel boots, and gloves with a good grip. Shin guards and chest/shoulder protectors are good to use if riding over rough terrain.
  1. Never ride alone and always let others know where you will be riding.
  2. Understand the size and age-appropriateness of ATVs. Use under 70cc for riders 6 and older, 70cc to 90cc for riders 12 years and older, and over 90cc for riders 16 years and older.
  3. Never ride on paved roads and use extreme caution if you have to cross one.
  4. Do not ride double. ATVs are designed for one operator so that the operator can be “Rider Active.” Shifting weight from the front of the seat to the rear or left to right while turning.

Last year, ATV safety was a topic taught at 58% of all Progressive Agriculture Safety Days. Our ATV curriculum was recently updated thanks to funding from the Iowa Farm Bureau. These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® offered throughout North America. This year alone, more than 100,000 children & adults will participate in a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® within their local community. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

In Photo Above: At a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® in Texas, participants take part in a demonstration on ATV Safety.

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