The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

August 9, 2013

In Our Opinion: Take steps to be safe on ATVs

The Daily Star

---- — All-terrain vehicles are great for work and for play. But they also can be dangerous.

This summer, at least three people have been killed locally while on ATVs, and others have been seriously injured.

The first fatality was a 75-year-old farmer who was found unresponsive with his ATV in a creek bed after not returning from herding cows.

In mid-July, a passenger died after he was thrown from an ATV that left the roadway and overturned when the driver lost control.

Late last month, a couple were returning to a party after midnight when their ATV hit a parked vehicle, ejecting them and killing the driver. Neither was wearing a helmet.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 327 ATV-related deaths were reported in 2011, and more than 100,000 patients were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to ATV accidents. To help lower those numbers, the CPSC recommends the following safety tips:

• Take a hands-on safety training course. Drivers with training have a lower injury risk than drivers with no formal training, the commission says.

• Always wear protective gear, especially a helmet. Many ATV injuries are head injuries, and wearing a helmet may reduce their severity.

• If an ATV is designed for only one person, don’t allow passengers. Passengers can interfere with the driver’s operation of the vehicle.

• Do not drive ATVs on paved roads, since they are difficult to control on paved roads. It is illegal in New York to ride on public highways unless ATV use is specifically allowed. Collisions with cars and other vehicles are also more likely on paved roads.

• Don’t let children ride on or drive ATVs meant for adults. About one-third of all deaths and injuries related to ATVs involve children, with a majority of those on a vehicle meant for an adult.

• And just like with other vehicles, do not drive ATVs while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as they impair reaction time and judgment.

The National Safety Council’s Agricultural Division also reminds riders that any attachments, such as plows or trailers, will affect an ATV’s stability, braking and operation.

Another common-sense tip is keeping a safe speed for conditions. Going 40 mph on a packed dirt road is probably fine, but going 40 mph in a field with high grass and woodchuck holes may be asking for trouble.

We also encourage people to ride where they know the terrain. If you’re going out riding in a new area, scout the area first to look for any potential hazards.

We hope ATV riders follow these tips, and we will be less likely to have to report another tragic ATV death.