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OHP's tips for riding ATVs safely this summer

atv riding all terrain vehicle
Posted at 6:22 AM, May 21, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Summer's almost here, and lots of people will, without a doubt, head to the great outdoors to take advantage of the warm weather.

ATVs can be loads of fun to take to the trails, but it goes without saying that it's important to ride them safely.

ATV riding is quite popular. However, people should be ready before the ride, as U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data shows the hobby results in hundreds of deaths and over 100,000 emergency room visits on average every year.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Mark Southall told 2 News ATV crashes normally involve only one vehicle.

With ATVs "being such a heavy-mass item," he explained, "Typically when they roll over on somebody, they do a lot of damage. And they really cause a lot of injuries. ... They're a high center of gravity."

Southall also noted that some drivers are not properly trained, saying he's seen some who have never taken a course.

"What we see a lot of times is people riding an ATV that they're not equipped to ride," he said. "I mean, they're not wearing a helmet, they're not wearing gloves, not wearing boots, not wearing long pants, and they're riding an ATV that is way too fast or too highly equipped for their abilities."

One of the biggest things Southall said people can do to save lives is to wear a helmet, especially a fitted one.

The number of people killed or hurt by ATVs is not insignificant.

Out of the 2,211 deaths from off-highway vehicles between 2016 and 2018, the CPSC reported that ATVs made up roughly three-quarters of them, with nearly 300 among kids younger than 16 years old.

While Southall told us that he sees kids riding ATVs safely as passengers, sometimes he sees kids riding ATVs that are too big for them.

If parents plan to let their child ride an ATV, he said they should make sure the child is riding one built for their age and is taught how to ride it safely and properly.

He emphasized that, ultimately, "there's no way a child should be allowed to ride a full-sized ATV like that."

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