Staying safe when riding ATVs
Monday, November 30, 2020
All-terrain vehicles can be as dangerous as they are fun to ride. Fortunately, the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program and Oklahoma Farm Bureau have launched a safety course to help children and families learn how to minimize risks associated with ATVs.
Oklahoma averages 18 to 24 ATV-related deaths each year, said Jim Rhodes, Oklahoma State University Extension educator, Oklahoma youth safety. Those numbers also include the nation’s highest rate of injury for children 16 and under driving adult-sized vehicles.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau/Oklahoma 4-H ATV Training Facility in Guthrie, Oklahoma, teaches fundamentals such as proper protective gear and correct body positioning when riding. The program offers a team-building and leadership skills development component as well.
The class is available to 4-H groups, FFA chapters, church groups and families. The program is designed for both first-timers and seasoned riders, Rhodes said.
“It’s important for kids to attend these classes and learn about the safety involved,” Rhodes said. “When an ATV fits a child improperly, it can result in an accident.”
An ATV typically is designed to be ridden by a single person behind handlebars, and its four low-pressure tires are designed for rougher terrain. Proper gear such as a helmet, goggles, gloves, over-ankle boots, long-sleeve shirts and pants protect the rider in harsh environments.
The course elaborates on guidance for ATV operators such as:
- Always wear a helmet and fasten seat belts.
- Drive at safe speeds in only designated areas.
- Read and follow the operator manual.
Lisa Stejskal’s children recently completed the course, and they couldn’t stop talking about it during the drive home.
“The part my kids liked best was that they got to go onto the trail after their basic training. Both instructors are very knowledgeable and help each kid tremendously,” she said. “They want to go back to experience everything again.”
Many children have gotten a self-esteem boost by the time the class is complete. When they work with others in the course, leaderships skills develop as well, Rhodes said.
“At the beginning of the class, kids can be nervous and unsure. By the end of the day, their confidence has increased, helping them become safe riders,” he said.
As long as participants are wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants and over-ankle boots, Rhodes will provide other necessary safety equipment such as helmet and gloves for the course.
For more information or to schedule a class, contact Rhodes by email.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Raley and Brian Brus | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-6792 | BBrus@okstate.edu