The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 23, 2013

Keep ATV riding fun, safe – and legal

— The sounds of spring are in the air: Birds chirping, lawnmowers buzzing and the engines of off-road vehicles revving.

Unfortunately, too many times those off-road vehicles end up on the road, often with tragic consequences. All-terrain vehicles are designed to handle whatever Mother Nature throws at them, including mud and snow, but they weren’t meant to be ridden on public roads.

We’ve already seen too many young people dangerously whipping around busy streets and highways this spring. Riders who hit the road can be a danger to pedestrians, motorists and themselves.

We urge ATV enthusiasts to stay off the roads and to enjoy their rides in the great outdoors.

The All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute, which is a not-for-profit division of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, offers these “golden rules” of ATV safety. 

* Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.

* Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law – another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.

* Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

* Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.

* Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.

* Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.

* Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.

* Take a hands-on ATV RiderCourse and the free online E-Course. Visit ATVsafety.org or call 800-887-2887.

The group’s website also offers information on how ATV riders should respect the outdoors.

Enthusiasts are encouraged to make sure they have permission to use the trails they are riding, keep their ATVs relatively quiet so as not to disturb wildlife and neighbors, obey trail markers and signs, and to leave the area as clean – or even cleaner – than they found it.

There are many other great tips on the institute’s website. We encourage riders to check it out, take the advice and safely enjoy their outdoor experience.

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