ATVs can be fun if handled with caution

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> By Brittany Jacks
> MSU Ag Communications
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> STARKVILLE, Miss. — Riding all-terrain vehicles is a fun adventure until tragedy strikes, but simple practices can keep riders safe.
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> Jesse Wilson, a high school senior from Lowndes County, has firsthand experience with an ATV disaster. Wilson was driving up a steep ditch when his ATV fell back on top of him because of excess weight on the back of the vehicle. He was not wearing any safety gear at the time. Wilson broke his shoulder because of this accident, and had to have surgery.
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> Wilson said he believes that if he had taken the weight off the back of the vehicle, it would not have flipped over on him. Riders should never carry more weight on their ATVS than the vehicle allows. This also applies to passengers.
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> “My advice for young or new drivers would be to always be aware of what is in front of you,” Wilson said. “Also, never go faster than you can control, and be cautious of the terrain you are driving in.”
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> Mississippi requires certain drivers to have a safety education certificate and wear helmet and/or eye protection. A safety education certificate is required unless the operator possesses a valid state driver’s license. Riders under the age of 16 must wear an approved helmet.
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> The ATV Safety Institute also provides a few regulations for people who ride these types of vehicles. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway and should never been driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Passengers should never be carried on single-rider ATVs, and no more than one passenger should ride ATVs designed for two people.
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> Drivers should ride ATVs that are right for their age, not one that is too large or too small for their body size. Riders under 16 should always be supervised by an adult. ATVs should be ridden only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
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> Brad Staton, Extension associate for the 4-H Youth Development program at Mississippi State University, said the number-one thing to remember when riding an ATV is to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.
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> “The majority of serious head trauma associated with accidents could be prevented by wearing a helmet,” he said.
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> Staton said that the second most important thing to remember when riding ATVs is that the vehicles should only be driven off-highway on trails.
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> “ATVs are not for use on paved roads, and this is a significant source of ATV accidents,” he said. “We also encourage the use of goggles, boots, gloves, long sleeves and long pants.”
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> Staton will be offering courses during ATV safety week on June 6-14. These courses will train young people ages 8-16. A separate class will be offered for kids ages 6-7 if needed. Additional courses will be offered to adults and youth during the summer. There will be a non-riding 4-H volunteer workshop held on August 8 at MSU. To register for these courses, contact Staton at bvs27@msstate.edu.
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> For more information on ATV safety week, visit http://bit.ly/1PYGTNX.
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