Editorial - Are you following ATV safety rules?
It's a shame that it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind people of how fragile life can be - and how following simple safety precautions can save a life.
Earlier this month, a 19-year-old woman from Foley died in an all-terrain vehicle accident east of St. Cloud. She was a passenger on an ATV that left the road and struck a tree. She was the sixth Minnesotan and second teenager to die in an ATV crash this year.
Neither she nor the driver, an 18-year-old, also of Foley, was wearing a helmet. Neither had completed ATV safety training.
Captain Mike Hammer, DNR education program coordinator, said many fatalities could be avoided if people followed safety guidelines and took advantage of ATV safety training classes.
"ATVs require special knowledge and training to be operated safety," Hammer said. He emphasized the importance of ATV safety training for everyone, regardless of age.
Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years of age or older who wants to operate an ATV on public lands in Minnesota, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD. Persons ages 12-15 must complete the ATV Safety Training CD and attend an ATV Safety Class before riding on public lands. Youth/Adult ATV Training CDs are available by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-646-6367.
The CDs are also available at Ollie's Service in Alexandria. Ollie's typically offers two to three ATV safety classes at the Alexandria Shooting Park every year. The next one will likely be scheduled this fall (watch the newspaper for the story).
The DNR provides guidelines for reducing the risks involved with ATVs:
Do not drive ATVs with a passenger or ride on one as a passenger.
Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. They are unstable on paved roads because the big, low pressure tires can cause the machine to flip.
ATVs are not toys and can be hazardous to operate. Supervise your youngster's operation of the ATV at all times
ATV operators younger than 18 years old must wear an approved safety helmet, except when operating on private property. To prevent head injuries everyone should wear a helmet.
An ATV handles differently from other vehicles. Even routine maneuvers such as turning and driving on hills and over obstacles can lead to serious injury if you fail to take proper precautions. With preparation and practice, operators can safely develop and expand their riding skills.
Youth need to "fit" the machine. A 60-to-120 pound youth and a 600-pound ATV are a mismatch.
More information can be found in the Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation booklet at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/ohv/index.html.
Parents, young drivers and all ATV owners should make a conscious effort the remainder of this summer and into the fall to put safety first. Let's stop the list of ATV fatalities at six.