While the summer months see ATVs on the trails in droves, safety precautions should be taken on Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) all year round.
According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research, from 2002 – 2009 the highest numbers of deaths were recorded between the ages of 20 and 34 years of age involving ATVs.
“We strongly promote youth safety education programs — teach them when they are young so that they learn the best and safest way to ride,” said Garry Salekin, Alberta Off Highway Vehicles Association (AOHVA) treasurer.
Jann Dyck, owner of Safety Now, said she loves teaching the All Terrain Vehicle Rider Course because, at the end of the day, people say how surprised they are at how much they learned while enjoying the course.
Dyck said the training group always consists of a wide range of ages from 16 to 50 as well as a mix of experience levels.
“It is mandatory for anyone who uses ATVs at work to have training, and it is beneficial to those who ride recreationally because people don’t always read the owner’s manual unfortunately,” said Dyck.
Salekin said some of the AOHVA’s messages for safety include wearing an approved helmet and face and eye protection, refusing to carry a passenger on an ATV built for one person and driving sober.
“Alcohol, drugs, and ATVs don’t mix.”
Part of using an ATV is having respect for others, as well as for the trails used. Salekin listed some of the messages from the Ride With Respect Program including not riding close to camping, picnicking or residential areas.
“Keep speeds low around crowds, keep the noise and dust down, show courtesy to other trail users, stay on trails and ride where and when permitted.”
Many people feel they are adequately equipped to use their ATV but many forget the simple dangers of not wearing appropriate gear.
Some of the gear Salekin recommends include goggles, long sleeved shirts and pants, gloves and over-the-ankle boots.
Specialized gear can be bought at many stores that sell ATVs as well as those that sell camping or outdoor clothing.
The AOHVA is currently offering the Ride with Respect Program at schools as well as the CASI ATV Rider Course, which is the most current hands-on ATV safety program in Canada.
“Along with the many more OHV riders, safety is always an issue. The AOHVA is a strong supporter of OHV safety. We currently offer two different safety programs and support a mandatory helmet law,” said Salekin.
During the summer months and on most long weekends, laws are enforced surrounding ATVs and groups are frequently stopped by police to check for insurance and registration.
All OHVs on public land must have functioning white headlights, red taillight, muffler and spark arrestor as well as having their lights on when in dark or low visibility conditions.
Salekin said the training courses are very important to ensure rider safety as well as injury prevention.
There are many laws already in place regarding OHV use and more information can be found at www.aohva.com