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Four-Wheelin' Dangers

Randy DeVaul

Posted on August 2, 2019 20:10

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If you own, operate, or ride on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or allow your children to do so, you could be placing yourself or them at significant risk. I'm not a party-pooper; I just wanti to remind you of how to ensure you and yours are safe when riding.

Stories abound on the dangers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), otherwise known as ‘four wheelers.’ Yet, we continue to hear about people getting seriously injured or killed while riding these vehicles, and we discover that the operators and riders were oftentimes reckless. Let's address how to operate ATVs in a safe manner.

The US Consumer Protection Agency offers these tips to ensure the safe operation of the ATV.

Learning to drive an ATV can be challenging. Many deaths and injuries occur when an inexperienced driver loses control of an ATV, is thrown from an ATV, overturns the vehicle, or collides with a fixed object or a motor vehicle. Good ATV training teaches new drivers how to handle multiple off-road riding situations.

Experienced ATV drivers (more than one year of experience) have a much lower risk of injury than relatively new drivers. Training can help bridge that gap. Yet, less than 10% of all ATV drivers and only about one-quarter of new drivers receive professional training.

All ATV drivers, including children under 16, should take a hands-on ATV safety course from a certified instructor.  ATV manufacturers and distributors who are members of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) offer free training as well as cash awards and incentives to buyers who complete the ATV Safety Institute training course. Children under 16 can take the course only if they are on an age-appropriate ATV. Children younger than 12 who take the course must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the training.

Many ATV injuries are head injuries. Wearing a helmet may reduce the severity of these injuries. Select a motorcycle or other motorized sports helmet and make sure the helmet is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

Other important protective equipment to wear while riding an ATV includes:

Over-the-ankle boots – to protect feet and ankles from injury.
Goggles – to protect eyes from rocks and dust thrown up by ATVs.
Gloves – to protect fingers and hands.
Long pants and long-sleeved shirts – to protect skin from rocks, trees, and other debris.
ATVs should not be driven on paved roads. ATVs on paved roads are at risk of being hit by cars and other vehicles. While passenger vehicles contain safety features designed to protect occupants from collisions, ATVs do not. If struck by other vehicles, ATV riders can be killed or severely injured.

In addition, most ATVs have low pressure tires and a solid rear axle, where both wheels turn at the same speed. When making a turn, the ATV's inside rear wheel is intended to skid because its path length is less than the path length of the outside wheel. ATVs on paved surfaces have much better traction, which prevents the necessary skidding. This can actually make turning an ATV on paved surfaces unpredictable and unstable.

Stay tuned for more safety reminders in the next TLT.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on August 2, 2019 20:10

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Source: News 4 Jax

The ATV riding season gears up over the summer months, and along with extra riders come extra crashes -- many of them fatal....

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