We accept that we need to take classes, pass the required tests and earn our licenses before we can drive a car or motorcycle on public roadways. We understand that accidents with these vehicles can be harmful, so we’re willing to take precautions. In short, we think about safety. Yet we don’t always give the same consideration to other types of vehicles.
Consider ATVs, for example. Because they’re fun rather than necessary, and because they travel along dirt paths and across the backcountry, ATVs are often treated much the same way as bicycles and other non-motorized toys. As the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) points out in an online infographic, an adult ATV weighs up to 600 pounds, and it can reach highway speeds of 65 miles per hour. That makes it a serious machine, with potentially serious consequences in the event of an accident.
To learn more about ATV safety, the CPSC has safety toolkits and links to additional resources available on its website.
Although these items aren’t strictly about safety, they are important tips for getting the most out of your ATV: First, if you’re headed off-road, make sure ATVs are allowed. You can do an online search for the area in which you’re planning to ride, and hopefully the park, national forest or township will have posted regulations; also, the online ATV education site ATVcourse.com has some good advice for finding the information you need. Consider finding a local off-highway vehicle (OHV) club, which will be an invaluable resource. The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council is a good place to start. Next, treat your ATV properly to make sure it has a long, happy life! Experienced club members will be a great resource for discussing the minutiae of caring for your machine, but in the meantime, ATV.com has some good advice:
Overall, ATVing is an exciting, freeing recreational activity, and it’s a pursuit that family members of all ages can enjoy together. In some parts of the country, in fact, ATVs are the only way you’ll have access to vast tracts of beautiful, remote public land. Just make sure you’re well-trained and well-educated, and be prepared before you fire up that engine.
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