Going off road? Follow these 7 tips for ATV safety

We’re all for enjoying Kentucky’s beautiful sights via four-wheeler, but practice these tips to help keep ATV injuries and fatalities down in 2017.

 Before heading for the trail to an off-road adventure, check out a driver education course specifically designed for ATVs. Proper instruction will inform riders of the correct ways to control an ATV on the various types of terrain that might be encountered.

Kentucky’s diverse terrain makes it the perfect landscape for some ATV fun. Want a sweeping panoramic view? Traverse the trails of eastern Kentucky to reach a sprawling ridge top. River bottom riding more your style? Western Kentucky has you covered. There’s no doubt about it: Four-wheeling is fun… but it’s important to keep in mind that ATVs are not exactly toys.

According to statistics from ATVSafety.gov,  a service of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Kentucky currently ranks as the third-highest state in the nation for annual ATV fatalities. During the CPSC’s most recent reporting period, 2013-2015, Kentucky saw 72 ATV-related deaths. Only West Virginia (84) and Texas (82) reported more ATV-related fatalities during this timeframe.

Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance offers the following tips to help keep ATV riders safe across the Bluegrass State:

  1. Get schooled! | Before heading for the trail to an off-road adventure, check out a driver education course specifically designed for ATVs. Proper instruction will inform riders of the correct ways to control an ATV on the various types of terrain that might be encountered. A formally-trained driver has a lower risk of accidents and injuries than one with no formal instruction.
  2. Always wear a helmet. | In Kentucky, it’s the law. All riders (operator and passengers) 16 or over on public property must wear a helmet, except those using the ATV for agricultural or business purposes. All riders (operator and passengers) under age 16 must wear helmets no matter the circumstance.
  3. Don’t forget special riding gear. | Like fly fishers who wear waterproof waders and snowboarders adorned in big bulky jackets, ATV riders should also come equipped for the elements they will encounter. Wear goggles, gloves, pants, boots that sit over the ankle, and long-sleeved shirts to avoid the cuts and scrapes that are more likely to occur when brushing up against trees, shrubs, rocks and other debris with exposed skin.
  4. Stay off the road. | ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway and can actually be hard to control on paved surfaces. Under Kentucky law, ATV use on public roads or highways is prohibited, except to cross these roads or for agricultural use. Many ATV fatalities occur because a rider was traveling on a paved road.
  5. Keep size in mind. | ATVs are growing bigger and faster than ever. Some ATVs can weigh up to 600 pounds and exceed 70 mph. ATVs can be too large for smaller kids to handle safely, even if it's legal for them to be riding them. The CPSC reports that almost 1/4th of ATV-related injuries treated in emergency rooms involved children less than 16 years of age. The National Ag Safety Database offers information – and additional safety tips – on the recommended ages for youth operation of ATVs and their various sizes and power.
  6. Don’t ride with a passenger. | Most ATVs are designed with only one rider in mind – the driver. Adding a passenger to the vehicle is not only a distraction, but it also interferes with the driver’s ability to move in tandem with the machine while navigating rough terrain. The inability to freely shift one’s weight from side to side limits the driver’s ability to maintain safe control of the ATV and could lead to an accident.
  7. Don’t drive under the influence. | Recreational use of ATVs can make for an enjoyable afternoon of adventure, but mixing those experiences with alcohol or drugs only impairs a driver’s judgment and reaction times.

We’re all for enjoying Kentucky’s beautiful sights via four-wheeler, but practice these tips  to help keep ATV injuries and fatalities down in 2017.

>> In Kentucky, there’s so much to live for. Join us in driving distraction-free. To learn more about distracted driving’s prevalence in the Bluegrass State, click here.